Fracking Near the Forest

Watchdog Group Discovers 351 Wells Fracked in Sespe Oil Fields

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

A report made public this week details decades’ worth of fracking on oil leases near Los Padres National Forest. The info, complied over the past year by Los Padres ForestWatch, which scoured thousands of pages of state and federal documents, identifies at least 351 wells in the Sespe Oil Fields (located north of Fillmore in Ventura County and immediately adjacent to Los Padres boundaries) that have been been fracked between the mid 1960s and this July.

Critics say the increasingly controversial though long-used oil extraction technique damages watersheds, pollutes underground water supplies, and negatively impacts human health. Noting the oil fields’ proximity to Los Padres as well as wilderness areas like Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge and the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, Jeff Kuyper, ForestWatch’s executive director, explained on Tuesday, “There is so much secrecy around fracking, we just wanted to get as much info as we could about it happening in or around [Los Padres] and get word out so people are aware.”

Of course, as most oil industry experts are quick to point out, fracking — basically injecting a fluid mixture of chemicals and water down a well to better extract hard-to-reach oil reserves — is nothing new and entirely legal. However, concern has recently skyrocketed over the many anecdotal impacts the process has on the environment and the fact that particulars of it, such as the ingredient list of the injections and what happens with the fluid once it is done being used, are virtually unregulated by any state or federal oversight agency.

It is just these types of worries, said Kuyper, that prompted him and his watchdog group to file their initial Freedom of Information Act request with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency that oversees oil operations on federal land, and then follow up with California’s department of oil and gas resources, the folks who regulate all actual in-well activities in the state. It should be noted, however, that of the seven instances of fracking that ForestWatch uncovered from the past two years, all were done on private leases adjacent to the National Forest owned by Texas’s Seneca Resources Group.

Los Padres National Forest spokesperson Andrew Madsen responded to the report on Tuesday afternoon by explaining, via email, that fracking has been a common thing in the Sespe oil fields for more than five decades and that “The Los Padres isn’t aware of any detrimental effects to resources resulting from oil extraction.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

With "decades" worth of fracking, there should be enough information to determine whether or not fracking is harmful or not.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2012 at 8:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

That's the problem -- until recently, nobody even knew that oil companies were injecting a cocktail of chemicals into the ground to stimulate well production. So, while the impacts may be uncertain, there is a potential for groundwater contamination and that is why there's a growing call for regulating the practice and requiring public notification.

If an oil company was pumping these chemicals into the ground near your home, wouldn't you want to know about it?

Crystalline silica, quartz
Ammonium salt
Sodium hydroxide
Ammonium chloride
Ethylene glycol
Monoethanolamine borate
Guar gum
Naphtha, hydrotreated heavy
Acetic acid
Acetic anhydride
2,2 Dibromo-3-nitrilopropionamide
Sodium persulfate
Hemicellulase enzyme
Amine Salts
Bis-quaternary Methacrylamide Monomer
Fatty alcohol polyglycol ether 9043-30-5 surfactant
Polyquaternary Amine Salt
Quaternary Amine
Quaternary ammonium compounds, bis(hydrogenated tallow alkyl) dimethyl,salts with bentonite
Sodium chloride
Sodium sulfate

These are the ingredients used in the fracking fluid from one of the wells that was fracked in the Los Padres National Forest this summer. This data comes straight from the oil company, as disclosed on the FracFocus website.

OnTheTrail (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2012 at 10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

These guys are fracking around!

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2012 at 12:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

WTF- What The Frack!!!

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2012 at 1:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

On the trail, what chemical compounds do you think are in crude oil? Hydrogen Sulfide, Benzene, ect. Remember what comes up out of the well when you are thinking about what is put down it. Hydraulic fracturing poses more or less the same risks as conventional drilling. Most of what we hear about fracking being dangerous is due to poor drilling practices not due to the fracking process.

cmetzenberg (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2012 at 2:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

thanks to Jeff K and ForestWatch for highlighting this issue. And thanks onthetrail for the details...
cmetzenberg, all those compounds listed cannot be in the oil. You have little data to support your outrageous assertion that "Hydraulic fracturing poses more or less the same risks as conventional drilling."
Taking it further, about 15,000 acres of Los Padres is being drilled or re-working with the fracking technique...within the forest are numerous areas where the drillers just left their equipment AND POLLUTION there and departed when they'd extracted what they wanted... an e.g. is near Ant Camp, and that's only one example. Big energy needs to lose its government subsidies (corporate socialism) AND pay a major windfall benefits tax (we have done this before).

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2012 at 3:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Big oil gets billions of our money in subsidies, which they bribe our politicians for, then they secretly pour 700 carcinogens into our drinking water aquifers on public lands, and leave the hundreds of sites littered rusted trash heaps. With friends like big oil, who needs enemies?

Rinconer (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2012 at 6:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I like the simplistic drawings of the fracking process where they show how deep they go, and the "impermiable layer" which separates the process from the much more shallow water table. Like there are no cracks in the subsurface and the geology is completely homogenous. Yeah right!

Riceman (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2012 at 6:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It is a good thing we have the clean water act, not on private wells, and municipal water departments that can filter. JohnLocke is still circulating that petition for a nuclear power plant on West Beach.

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2012 at 9:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Dr. Dan my assertion is far from outrageous and I do actually have quite a fair bit of data in the form of incident case analysis. (FYI, I work in the drilling industry.) The vast majority of the highly publicized incidents have route causes in human error (as do the vast majority of most industrial incidents.) that could happen AT CONVENTIONAL DRILLING SITES TOO. IE, multiple cases of poor pit managment (pig pools of drilling fluid overflowing and contaminating ground water), casing and cement failure. These are not fracking specific failures.

Riceman, are you a geologist? 7 miles, that is how thick some of these "impermeable layers" are. 100% impermeable, neither you nor I are oil field geologists so maybe we should let the experts tell us how impermeable these layers are and impermeable to what?

DonMcDermott, research the "Halliburton clause." You'll love it...not really, only dick cheney does.

cmetzenberg (anonymous profile)
October 11, 2012 at 2:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What a joke of an article.
- The chemicals are less than 1% of the volume put in the well. 99% is water.
- Of the 1% that are chemicals, it's equivalent to household detergent.
- It's been going on for decades with *zero* contamination of water (tied to fracking itself).

Oil drilling has risks - just like any energy production. Oil is natural, it occurs naturally, it's everywhere - and has been for hundreds of millions of years.

Calm down.

willy88 (anonymous profile)
October 11, 2012 at 3:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

thank you willy88!

cmetzenberg (anonymous profile)
October 11, 2012 at 6:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Looks like Forest Watch is on the hunt again and sending out the press releases, check the story in the Ventura County Star at

The comments are good too. Come to think of it, doesn't comment #2 here sound just like Mr. Jeff K ?

maybeso (anonymous profile)
October 11, 2012 at 9:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

maybeso, thanks for appreciating my comment "thanks to Jeff K and ForestWatch for highlighting this issue"! Since I've read several interesting posts by OnTheTrail in the past, on issues with no relevance to this one, your nasty charge that OnTheTrail is Jeff K is complete baloney and shows YOU have nothing to add to this thread: try to stay on topic, eh? Plus, Jeff K doesn't hesitate to reveal his posts. See, when you have nothing you resort to ad hominem crud.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 12, 2012 at 5:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: