Tag Archives: chemical tracers

Why Not Use Tracers in Fracking?

I know relatively little about fracking. I’m not a geologist, environmental activist, petroleum industry magnate (or employee), or hydrologist. However, I get the impression that there are a lot of people concerned that fracking is putting toxic chemicals into the water supply (among other things.) I’m still agnostic on this issue, but I would like to know with some degree of certainty why some people can ignite the water coming from their faucets, and how many wells are faulty. So why not use chemical tracers in fracking to attribute sources of pollution?

There are a number of companies that provide the needed technology. Consider for example Chemical Tracers Inc, Environmental Tracing Systems LTD, and others. If they can produce tracers that are A) uniquely identifiable, B) not naturally occurring, and C) compatible with fracking fluid mixes, they could be mixed into the fracking fluid at the well site. This would give each well a ‘fingerprint’ that would allow us to ‘see’ whether fluid from any particular well was getting into the water supply by simply looking for the chemical tracers in the water. Wallah! Instant attribution.

All of us should have a stake in implementing this idea. The oil companies want to show that their fracking wells aren’t polluting aquifers, and the rest of us want to know that fracking wells aren’t polluting aquifers. And many of us on either side of this issue are going to have grandkids living near fracking wells some day; I for one would like to know that they’re not going to get sick from one of the best national water systems on the planet.


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