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Earthworks sent our Texas Sharon Wilson to a much ballyhooed fracking industry PR conference in Houston because we feel it’s important to keep a close eye on this industry.

She recorded industry PR reps admitting they use ex military personnel to conduct PSYOP operations in neighborhoods, and recommending the use of the US Army/Marine Insurgency Manual against the “insurgents” who are the American public. They also talked about “inoculating” influential members of our society against what they might hear.

Today Earthworks is launching In Their Own Words, a series of recordings from the conference. Despite the PR reps’ constant use of the word “transparent” these recordings will show an industry that is anything but. So, without further ado, we give you Biocides. In their own words:

Hydraulic fracturing – We talk about biocides. Wow, that’s a big word. That’s bleach. So we’ve got to start talking bleach. . . So we need to kind of bring what we put in there down to where people can understand.

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The oil and gas industry is quick to jump on citizens and environmental organizations for simplifying aspects of the oil and gas industry.  Yet when it is to their benefit, guys like this are happy to spout half-truths such as, “biocides. . . that’s bleach.”

Bleach conjures images of clean, white shirts. But if you boil the big word BI-O-CIDE down to its true purpose, he should have said “biocides. . . that’s poison.”

Biocides are chemicals used to kill living organisms. For the purposes of oil and gas development, biocides are primarily used to kill bacteria that can produce toxic hydrogen sulfide gas, cause corrosion or scale build-up on pipes and equipment, or clog or damage the oil and gas formations.

Sure, some operators use bleach (i.e., sodium hypochlorite) to kill off the bacteria. But according to ALL Consulting, Chesapeake Energy, Frac Focus and other industry sources there are many different chemical products used as biocides during the hydraulic fracturing process. These include

  • gluteraldehydes,
  • Quaternary Ammonium Chloride and other quaternary amines,
  • Tetrakis Hydroxymethyl-Phosphonium Sulfate (THPS),
  • Dibromonitrilopropionamide (DBNPA), and
  • Dazomet.

These products include chemicals that are vastly different from those that make up bleach.

Doesn’t sound like something you’d like injected through your drinking water, does it?  The drilling industry can, and does.

Yes, some of these chemicals products include “big words,” but this guy and others like him need to know that citizens living with oil and gas development don’t want dumbed-down explanations. They want to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – especially when it comes to poisons that could find their way into their water, air and soils.

In 2010, Gulftex told the Bartonville Town Council that “the biocide we’re using is a horrific chemical.” While preparing for the council meeting Gulftex found that Environmental Protection Agency had proposed that the biocide be banned in commercial uses.

Is it any wonder that we keep pressing for full disclosure of chemicals used to drill for and extract oil and gas?

Lisa Sumi is an environmental consultant who works on the environmental and community health impacts of extractive industries such as hardrock mining, and oil and gas. She has served as Research Director of two non-profit organizations – the Oil and Gas Accountability Project (2004-2007), and the Environmental Mining Council of British Columbia (1998-2002). She is the author of Oil and Gas at Your Door? A landowner’s guide to oil and gas development and Our Drinking Water at Risk: Lisa Sumi holds a Master of Science Degree from the University of Toronto.