The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 29, 2014

Uncovering trade secrets

The Daily Item

— I was pleased to read in the April 25 edition of the Daily Item that Baker Hughes of Houston will begin disclosing the chemicals in its fracking fluid, even those covered by “trade secrets.”

This is a step forward in corporate responsibility to the citizens of the commonwealth. It is a procedure that should have been put in action by our governor and Legislature before fracking for natural gas began in Pennsylvania. It is extremely difficult, as well as time consuming for chemists to analyze for chemicals present in a complex mixture when some materials, like bactericides and fungicides, can be at very low levels.

Disclosure, as in the Federal Clean Water Act, helps the chemist focus on specific classes of material making the analysis easier. It does not harm the company’s bottom line if disclosure is made to a responsible state agency and not disclosed to competitors. Public disclosure, on the other hand, prevents a competitor from obtaining a valid U.S. patent on trade secret material, another plus for the disclosing company.

Let us see if other companies are bold enough to follow suit.

William Simpson,