A fracking fluid leak from a Michigan natural gas well has some calling for a review of the state’s drilling regulations. According to a Bloomberg News report, the leak was discovered either Monday or Tuesday at a natural gas well in Michigan’s northwestern Lower Peninsula. Presidium Antrim West LC, which drilled the well, said it was stopped and contained Tuesday.
About 12,000 wells in Michigan have been drilled using hydraulic fracturing since the 1960s. According to Bloomberg, this is the first time a fracking operation has experienced a leak in Michigan.
The fluid involved in the leak, which included nitrogen and a hydrochloric acid additive, was being used in the hydraulic fracturing process. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Presidium had only finished installing the new well, and discovered the leak when it was first turned on. The fracking fluid spill was limited to a small area right around the well.
The state said that cement used to contain a steel sleeve where liquid is pumped apparently failed, causing the leak in the well. An investigation and monitoring was planned to determine what longer-term cleanup might be needed.
The leak may lead to a review of some regulations related to permits and monitoring for such wells, state environmental officials said, according to Bloomberg. One change could include modifying regulations that only require companies to disclose details of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing if there’s a spill.
Fracking, which involves injecting a mixture of water and chemicals into shale deposits under high pressure to release natural gas, is generally exempt from regulation under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. As a result, regulation is left up to individual states.
While it remains unclear whether the hydraulic fracturing process has contaminated drinking water, there have been more than 1,000 reports around the country of water contamination from drilling, according to a recent ProPublica report.