Frack Attack: How Plunderbund failed to tell the whole story

by karlhenk

Detroit — Detractors of fracking claim the controversial process will destroy land, contaminate drinking water and ruin life as we know it.

Fracking, of course, is the process in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted into rocks thousands of feet below the ground to unlock natural gas and oil.

They hark on the drilling industry’s secrecy — which, to an extent, is a problem — and demand full transparency.

Transparency is a trait that everyone can accept.

But at last check, transparency is not a one-way street.

When the blog Plunderbund published a story about violations at well sites in Ohio, I prematurely applauded the article.

Then I read the story.

“… we found that 693 gas and oil wells in Ohio failed inspections performed by ODNR inspectors last year, resulting in 1,625 distinct violations.

Violations for Failure to legibly identify well (347 violations) were most frequent, followed by Nonproduction wells that need to be plugged or placed in temporary inactive status (251 violations).

It’s all accurate information, and the investigation appears to be thorough, even breaking down the violations by type and county.

But the article fails to put those violations into context. In 2011, 693 gas and oil wells failed inspection.

Ohio has nearly 68,000 wells.

That means that 1 percent of all Ohio wells failed an inspection last year.

To compare the irresponsibility of the natural gas and oil industry, which in Ohio was 1 percent, to everyday life, read this.

That’s right, 14 percent of licensed Ohio drivers have an OVI conviction.

What’s the more deadly scenario here?

For those of you still reading who don’t know my background and think I’m an industry schill, I urge you to read this, this, this, this and this.

Does natural gas and oil drilling cause contamination?


I can’t recall a single industry individual who hasn’t acknowledged that contamination can, and does occur, when a driller makes a mistake.

But put it in context.

The evidence, from last year at least, indicates the problems were few and far between.

Whether the Ohio Department of Natural Resources can fulfill its obligations moving forward — it currently has about 30 well inspectors — is still up in the air.

Plunderbund will be watching. I will be watching.

But as we demand transparency from the industry and state regulators, we must adhere to the same principles.

There’s much more on this subject at

Follow Karl Henkel on Twitter, friend him on Facebook.