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State DEP to use in-house database to collect fracking, well site data

The state Department of Environmental Protection is creating its own electronic database that will record all of the chemicals gas companies use in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Since 2012 the state has mandated that companies list the chemicals used in the fracking process and, until now, had used an independent source called FracFocus to run the database.

But DEP officials wanted a more comprehensive, searchable database that includes not just chemicals but well site locations, inspection records and other detailed information.

DEP spokeswoman Amanda Witman said Thursday that the new database should be up and running by June 2016.

FracFocus, which is used in several states other than Pennsylvania, had long served a purpose for allowing residents to search for fracking information, but the DEP thought it was time to increase the amount of data available.

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“FracFocus is an important tool but did not have all of the information DEP wants to make available in a searchable online tool,” Witman said.

Witman said the new database will contain additional information such as wellhead production, water sources being used and companies involved in operations.

Creating the new database will not cost the DEP anything extra, Witman said, as the project will be handled in-house within the department’s Bureau of Information Technology.

She added that the DEP had paid dues to an organization that runs FracFocus, but will stop paying those dues once its own database is operational.

Erica Clayton Wright, a spokeswoman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said Thursday that transparency in the industry has always been a priority, and that FracFocus helps accomplish that transparency.

“The Marcellus Shale Coalition was an early supporter of greater transparency and common-sense disclosure requirements and Pennsylvania’s current law — through the use of FracFocus — ensures that disclosure,” she said.

FracFocus is run dually by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Groundwater Protection Council.

This article was written by Jared Stonesifer from Beaver County Times, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.