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FracFocus to Make Several Improvements This Year

The two organizations that jointly run FracFocus.org, the national registry that provides the public with a list of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking), said several improvements will be made to the system this year.

The Groundwater Protection Council (GWPC) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), said Thursday that the functionality of the FracFocus system will be improved by:

  • Reducing the number of human errors in disclosures;
  • Expanding the public's ability to search records;
  • Providing public extraction of data in a "machine readable" format; and
  • Updating educational information on chemical use, oil and gas production and potential environmental impacts.

To reduce the number of human errors in disclosures, GWPC and IOGCC will install self-checking features designed to help companies find and correct the errors before disclosures are submitted. The data submitted by companies will also be checked to ensure they meet the proper Chemical Abstract Service numbering format.

"An emphasis on the use of a reporting format called the 'systems approach' will improve chemical reporting transparency for the public and may result in a reduction in the number of trade secret claims," GWPC and IOGCC said Thursday. "This improvement will allow companies to file a more complete list of chemicals used in a [fracking] job. This approach was supported by many of the operating companies."

GWPC and IOGCC said new pulldown menus and search fields, such as the closure submission date, would help the public search records. Public access is also expected to improve with the introduction of "machine readable" data sets; FracFocus records are currently only available in PDF format.

"These improvements will continue the site's goal in providing highly accurate information about chemicals used in individual [fracking] operations," GWPC and IOGCC said. "An additional dozen small improvements will allow participating companies and the public to access data more efficiently."

Regulators in 20 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces use FracFocus for their reporting of fracking chemicals. According to GWPC and IOGCC, which launched FracFocus in 2011, the system currently contains nearly 100,000 accessible disclosures and has served more than one million visitors from 134 countries (see Shale Daily, April 6, 2011).

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