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Rest assured

February 3, 2011

You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when, in November, 2010, hydro-fracking Halliburton announced the creation of “CleanStim™ Formulation, a fracture fluid system comprised of materials sourced entirely from the food industry,” calling it “an exciting new innovation in the field.” The announcement came, no doubt, as comforting news to millions of people who rely on the purity of the Upper Delaware River drinking water, and to millions whose water is drawn from the aquifer that mingles underground with the Marcellus Shale.

Because Halliburton is so proud of CleanStim™, its web site now discloses some of the chemicals in its once secret and proprietary concoction of fracking fluid.

I, for one, sleep better after perusing the “CleanStim™ Formulation” chart at the site.

There I learned that an “organic acid” is a component not only of CleanStim™ but also of fruit juice, dishwasher cleaner and hand soap. You will find the same “organic ester” in CleanStim™ and in liquid egg products, polymeric coatings and hairspray; and “sulfonated alcohol” is in marshmallows, dishwashing liquid, shampoo and shaving cream as well as in CleanStim™. I feel so relieved to know that an “enzyme” used in fruit juices, detergent, toilet cleaner and industrial pulp and paper processing will now be used in fracking fluid.

With Halliburton looking out for our safety, we don’t have a single worry even though many of these substances are listed as hazardous on the Material Safety Data Sheet, a catalog of information on chemical compounds and mixtures for occupational settings. Halliburton assures us that it “insists on employing the best practices available when it comes to handling those fluids, transporting them, storing them, and using them to help our customers produce energy for the American people.” I am no longer afraid.

It’s good to know we have a company like Halliburton looking out for the purity of our air and water. Besides, how could any substance that’s in fruit juice and toilet cleaner be toxic for us or the birds or the trees?

I was never an ace at chemistry, but I’d like to offer a couple of suggestions in the interest of furthering Halliburton’s commitment to our environment. The solvent and sweetener glycerol is an ingredient in antifreeze, candy and cosmetics, and it’s also used in the manufacture of dynamite. Sounds like a perfect ingredient for CleanStim™.