The natural gas industry, and it’s supporting case of puppet politicians, continue to claim that fracking has no negative impact on the environment or local drinking water supplies. There are many incidents of flammable water and poisoned streams that refute these claims, of course, but neither the industry or the government agencies that should be regulating them seem to care.
In big fracking states, many members of the public are alarmed that natural gas companies are blasting thousands of gallons of chemically-enhanced water into the ground just to get at natural gas deposits. Not only does the injection of these chemicals pose serious health risk, but then there’s the frightening question of what happens to the wastewater when frackers are done with it.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the five most common disposal options for fracking wastewater currently in use are: recycling for additional fracking, treatment and discharge to surface waters, underground injection, storage in open air pits, and spreading on roads for ice or dust control. “All of these options present significant risks of harm to public health or the environment. And there are not sufficient rules in place to ensure any of them will not harm people or ecosystems,” explains the NRDC in a recent report.
West Virginia and Pennsylvania are big fracking states, but they happily ship most of their wastewater for disposal in Ohio injection wells. Only recently did West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection take samples of the brine to find out exactly what they were burying in Ohioans’ back yards. The results were shocking (or not):
The lab results indicate high levels of alpha particles, arsenic, barium and toluene, among other contaminants, and are cause for the brine to be classified as “hazardous,” according to Ben Stout, professor of biology at Wheeling Jesuit University who interpreted the results. Stout labeled the results as “eerily similar” to brine samples taken by West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection. He describes heavy metals found in the sample as “grossly above standard,” citing skyrocketing arsenic and barium levels that exceed the primary standard for acceptable drinking water concentrations by 370 and 145 times, respectively.
The fact that environmental protection agencies at the state and federal level are allowing these substances to be dumped in areas where they can then seep into water supplies is outrageous. These agencies have a simple job: to protect the environment and human’s health above all else. Yet they would rather play the “wait and see” game instead of confronting these companies and holding them accountable for their actions.
Fracking should stop unless and until the gas companies can prove it has ZERO negative impact on local drinking water supplies. Sign the petition below to take action.
Image via Progress Ohio/Flickr