Archives for posts with tag: hydraulic fracturing

From LinkTV:

An original investigative report by Earth Focus and UK’s Ecologist Film Unit looks at the risks of natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale. From toxic chemicals in drinking water to unregulated interstate dumping of potentially radioactive waste that experts fear can contaminate water supplies in major population centers including New York City, are the health consequences worth the economic gains?

Marcellus Shale contains enough natural gas to supply all US gas needs for 14 years. But as gas drilling takes place, using a process called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” toxic chemicals and methane gas seep into drinking water. Now experts fear that unacceptable levels of radioactive Radium 226 in gas development waste.

Fracking chemicals are linked to bone, liver and breast cancers, gastrointestinal, circulatory, respiratory, developmental as well as brain and nervous system disorders. Such chemicals are present in frack waste and may find their way into drinking water and air.

Waste from Pennsylvania gas wells — waste that may also contain unacceptable levels of radium — is routinely dumped across state lines into landfills in New York, Ohio and West Virginia. New York does not require testing waste for radioactivity prior to dumping or treatment. So drill cuttings from Pennsylvania have been dumped in New York’s Chemung and other counties and liquid waste is shipped to treatment plants in Auburn and Watertown New York. How radioactive is this waste? Experts are calling are for testing to find out.
New York State may have been the first state in the nation to put a temporary hold on fracking pending a safety review, but it allows other states to dump toxic frack waste within its boundaries.

With a gas production boom underway in the Marcellus Shale and plans for some 400,000 wells in the coming decades, the cumulative impact of dumping potential lethal waste without adequate oversight is a catastrophe waiting to happen. And now U.S. companies are exporting fracking to Europe.

From EENews:

As President Obama catches up, at least rhetorically, with drilling critics who have pushed for public disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemicals, activists are stressing that disclosure is not enough.

In his State of the Union address last night, Obama said he would implement a proposal bouncing around the Interior Department since 2010 to require drillers to publicly disclose the chemicals used when fracturing on public land (E&E Daily, Jan. 25). It was the only specific action he mentioned about how he would develop the country’s vast store of natural gas in shale formations “without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.”

But activists stress that disclosure alone does not protect health and safety. Once the chemicals are known, they say, officials should move to make sure they are regulated, some would say banned.

“I can’t point to any community where that’s saved lives,” said Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist at Ithaca College, speaking at a conference earlier this month in the Washington area on drilling and public health.

At the same conference, Kathleen Hoke Dachille of the Network for Public Health Law pointed to U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, saying it has been helpful but “not transformative.”

“Disclosure is necessary, but not sufficient,” Dachille, director of the network’s Eastern region, said in an interview. “Detection is not prevention.”

Such sentiments are likely to rekindle suspicions in the oil and gas industry that disclosure is a Trojan horse in its persistent conflict with environmental groups.

“This isn’t the first time these folks have moved the goal posts on us, and we’re not naive enough to think it’ll be the last,” said Chris Tucker of the industry group Energy in Depth. “The bottom line here, at least for some of these groups, is that they don’t want us to produce the resource, plain and simple.”

Industry as a whole has moved grudgingly toward disclosure in the last few years, slowly giving up some of its concerns about revealing trade secrets.

While disclosure has gained acceptance among some companies and state regulators, actual public disclosure remains in its infancy. There is still no database of well-by-well fracturing chemicals that allows researchers to search by chemical or easily see how often a chemical has been used. In many states, public disclosure remains voluntary.

The industry-preferred method of disclosure, a website called FracFocus.org, included lists of chemicals used for 5,200 wells as of October. Operators could upload the data from any well “fracked” after Jan. 1, 2011. But more than 30,000 wells had been drilled in the United States through October (E&ENews PM, Oct. 21, 2011).

Disclosure requirements in Colorado and Texas have yet to go into effect. Colorado starts in April and Texas starts in February. Wyoming has required disclosure since September 2010.

After all the political fights over disclosure, there is little mention of the chemicals actually listed, which include diesel fuel and other carcinogens.

More.

From Living on Earth:

It’s Living on Earth, I’m Bruce Gellerman.Until last March there had never been an earthquake recorded near Youngstown, Ohio. But since then there have been 11- the last one on New Year’s Eve. The epicenter was near an injection well used by gas drillers to dump millions of gallons of wastewater from hydro-fracking – much of it from nearby Pennsylvania’s gas-rich shale deposits.

Did the disposal of the fracking waste cause the Ohio quakes? Well, the jury is still out, but the polluted fracking water is filled with chemicals and it is extremely salty – 5 times saltier than seawater. Before they began pumping Pennsylvania’s fracking waste into Ohio wells much of it ended up in rivers and streams, and posed a risk to drinking water.

Pennsylvania officials thought they solved the problem when they banned fracking water from treatment plants, but that didn’t work. Reid Frazier of the radio program The Allegheny Front reports, scientists are now scrambling to find out why not, and what to do about it.

FRAZIER: Frank Blaskovich is standing on a catwalk over a pool of water near the Ohio River. He points at a series of pipes draining into the far end of the pool.

BLASKOVICH: What we’re seeing is out of those seven standpipes over there… that’s the river water coming in.

FRAZIER: Blaskovich manages the Wheeling, West Virginia, water treatment plant. His job is to take water from the Ohio and make it into safe drinking water for his city of 30,000. But since 2008, the Ohio has been too salty. So he’s had to dilute it with groundwater from backup wells. Blaskovich doesn’t like doing this because each added step costs money.

BLASKOVICH: The price of water will eventually go up which probably will lead to a possible rate hike.

FRAZIER: But he’s blending the river water anyway because it’s got high levels of bromide. Bromide is a salt, and by itself it’s harmless. But combined with chlorine, at a drinking water plant like this one, it forms chemicals called trihalomethanes. Long term exposure to trihalomethanes increases the risk of bladder and other cancers. Because of high bromide levels in the rivers, Wheeling and dozens of plants in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia have violated the EPA’s limits on trihalomethanes over the last three years.

Bromides come from many places–sea water, coal-fired power plants, and chemicals. But the Ohio’s spike in bromide occurred three years ago, and Blaskovich thinks that’s no coincidence.

BLASKOVICH: That’s when deep drilling for gas sort of took off up in this area of the country.

FRAZIER: Each Marcellus shale gas well produces millions of gallons of salty water. The water is full of bromides, and until recently, drillers in Western Pennsylvania trucked this brine to wastewater plants for disposal. The plants could treat the water for metals and other pollutants, but not bromides. That requires expensive new technology. The plants would simply release the treated water–bromides and all–into rivers and streams.

But after trihalomethane levels started creeping up at drinking water plants, regulators took interest. In March, the EPA expressed concern over Pennsylvania’s handling of Marcellus discharge, and a month later, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection asked drillers to stop sending wastewater to treatment plants. DEP secretary Mike Krancer said a voluntary program would simply be quicker than making a new rule.

KRANCER: The industry– and I knew they would–did the responsible thing and complied, so we had compliance in 28 hours instead of 28 months.

FRAZIER: According to DEP records reviewed by The Allegheny Front, the request stopped most, but not all drillers from sending Marcellus shale brine to these plants. After the request was made, some facilities, like the Franklin Brine Treatment plant, south of Erie, saw their oil and gas wastewater shipments drop by 70 percent.

Drillers say they are recycling more of their water now, or sending it to Ohio, where it’s injected into deep storage wells. So if drillers are sending much less of their salty water to treatment plants, bromide levels in the rivers should be going down. But, at least this year, that hasn’t been the case. Jeanne Van Briesen is a Carnegie Mellon scientist who’s monitored bromide on the Monongahela River for the past two years.

VAN BRIESEN: We thought in such a wet year, we would see almost no bromide, it would be below our detection limit in most of our samples, and it was not.

FRAZIER: But the question remains, where is the bromide coming from?

Read or listen to the rest of the story here.

From

As of Monday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had received a record-breaking 20,800 public comments on the latest draft of its review of hydrofracking.

The document, called the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) has sparked a major public debate in New York.

But by Tuesday, the agency had its hands full with thousands of more comments arriving at the 11th hour.

The deadline for submitting a public comment to the DEC about hydrofracking is Wednesday, January 11th.

From New York Times:

Energy companies have been pouring millions of dollars into television advertising, lobbying and campaign contributions as the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo enters the final phase of deciding when and where to allow a controversial form of natural gas extraction that is opposed by environmental groups.

Companies that drill for natural gas have spent more than $3.2 million lobbying state government since the beginning of last year, according to a review of public records. The broader natural gas industry has been giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign accounts of lawmakers and the governor. And national energy companies are advertising heavily in an effort to convince the public that the extraction method, commonly known as hydrofracking, is safe and economically beneficial.

Environmental groups, with far less money at their disposal, are mounting a more homespun campaign as they warn that hydrofracking — a process in which water mixed with sand and chemicals is injected deep into the ground to break up rock formations and release natural gas — could taint the water supply and cause untold environmental ruin.

One environmental group held a Halloween contest in which participants were asked to design costumes for drill rigs. And, claiming Mr. Cuomo is rushing the approval process for drilling by collecting public comments for 90 days, environmentalists delivered 180 water-powered clocks to the governor’s Capitol office, representing the number of days they are asking him to allow for people to weigh in.

The activity on both sides of the debate is intensifying as New York conducts four public hearings across the state, beginning Nov. 16 in Dansville, a rural community in the Finger Lakes region, and winding up next week in TriBeCa.

Interest in the issue is so widespread that Joseph Martens, the state environmental conservation commissioner, said people have taken to stopping him on the street in the Albany suburb where he lives.

“It’s very, very intense; there’s no question about it,” Mr. Martens said in a recent interview. “And it’s part of a national debate.”

Mr. Cuomo, whose first effort to field questions online from residents was swamped by the hydrofracking issue, is pleading for both sides to be patient.

“I know that the temperature is high,” he said recently. “We have a process. Let’s get the facts. Let the science and the facts make the determination, not emotion and not politics.”

The lobbying push in New York follows similar efforts by the energy industry to influence lawmakers and regulators in Washington and in other parts of the country that are rich in shale formations. Several other states, including Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio, have also seen millions of dollars in spending in recent years by drilling companies on lobbying, campaign contributions or both.

More.

From ProPublica:

On a summer evening in June 2005, Susan Wallace-Babb went out into a neighbor’s field near her ranch in Western Colorado to close an irrigation ditch. She parked down the rutted double-track, stepped out of her truck into the low-slung sun, took a deep breath, and collapsed, unconscious.

A natural gas well and a pair of fuel storage tanks sat less than a half-mile away. Later, after Wallace-Babb came to and sought answers, a sheriff’s deputy told her that a tank full of gas condensate — liquid hydrocarbons gathered from the production process — had overflowed into another tank. The fumes must have drifted toward the field where she was working, he suggested.

The next morning Wallace-Babb was so sick she could barely move. She vomited uncontrollably and suffered explosive diarrhea. A searing pain shot up her thigh. Within days she developed burning rashes that covered her exposed skin, then lesions. As weeks passed, any time she went outdoors, her symptoms worsened. Wallace-Babb’s doctor began to suspect she had been poisoned.

“I took to wearing a respirator and swim goggles outside to tend to my animals,” Wallace-Babb said. “I closed up my house and got an air conditioner that would just recycle the air and not let any fresh air in.”

Wallace-Babb’s symptoms mirror those reported by a handful of others living near her ranch in Parachute, Colo., and by dozens of residents of communities across the country that have seen the most extensive natural gas drilling. Hydraulic fracturing, along with other processes used to drill wells, generates emissions and millions of gallons of hazardous waste that are dumped into open-air pits. The pits have been shown to leak into groundwater and also give off chemical emissions as the fluids evaporate. Residents’ most common complaints are respiratory infections, headaches, neurological impairment, nausea and skin rashes. More rarely, they have reported more serious effects, from miscarriages and tumors to benzene poisoning and cancer.

ProPublica examined government environmental reports and private lawsuits, and interviewed scores of residents, physicians and toxicologists in four states — Colorado, Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania — that are drilling hot spots. Our review showed that cases like Wallace-Babb’s go back a decade in parts of Colorado and Wyoming, where drilling has taken place for years. They are just beginning to emerge in Pennsylvania, where the Marcellus Shale drilling boom began in earnest in 2008.

Concern about such health complaints is longstanding — Congress held hearings on them in 2007 at which Wallace-Babb testified. But the extent and cause of the problems remains unknown. Neither states nor the federal government have systematically tracked reports from people like Wallace-Babb, or comprehensively investigated how drilling affects human health.

“In some communities it has been a disaster,” said Christopher Portier, director of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the National Center for Environmental Health. “We do not have enough information on hand to be able to draw good solid conclusions about whether this is a public health risk as a whole.”

Exemptions from federal environmental rules won by the drilling companies have complicated efforts to gather pollution data and to understand the root of health complaints. Current law allows oil and gas companies not to report toxic emissions and hazardous waste released by all but their largest facilities, excluding hundreds of thousands of wells and small plants. Many of the chemicals used in fracking and drilling remain secret, hobbling investigators trying to determine the source of contamination. The gas industry itself has been less than enthusiastic about health studies. Drillers declined to cooperate with a long-term study of the health effects of gas drilling near Wallace-Babb’s town this summer, prompting state officials to drop their plans and start over.

These factors make a difficult epidemiological challenge even tougher. Doctors and toxicologists say symptoms reported by people working or living near the gas fields are often transient and irregular. They say they need precise data on the prevalence and onset of medical conditions, as well as from air and water sampling, to properly assess the hazards of drilling.

More.

From Albany Times Union:

Dozens of scientists, including four from the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, warned Gov. Andrew Cuomo that it will be practically impossible for municipal drinking water systems to protect against chemicals used in natural gas hydraulic fracturing, also called hydrofracking.

Their letter to the governor, released Thursday, was signed by 59 experts from 18 states and seven foreign countries, included scientists from Cornell University, the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and the State University at Stony Brook.

“We urge the state to reconsider its position that existing water filtration systems provide adequate protection against the risk of hydraulic fracturing, should materials from flow-back fluids migrate to lakes, reservoirs, or groundwater used for municipal water supplies,” the letter states.

Hydrofracking relies on a high-pressure blend of chemicals, sand and water, injected deep underground to break up gas-bearing shale rock formations. Trucks bring in million of gallons of water as well as heavy equipment to each well.

Used drilling water, which can contain benzene and other volatile aromatic hydrocarbons, surfactants and organic biocides, barium and other toxic metals, and radioactive compounds, is later trucked to a disposal site.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation, which is considering rules to permit hydrofracking, has vowed that treated wastewater from drilling could be discharged into rivers only after hazardous substances have been removed, spokeswoman Emily Desantis said.

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

More.

See the letter here.

From This American Life, an outstanding 3-part story, “Game Changer,” about natural gas in Pennsylvania:

A professor in Pennsylvania makes a calculation, to discover that his state is sitting atop a massive reserve of natural gas—enough to revolutionize how America gets its energy. But another professor in Pennsylvania does a different calculation and reaches a troubling conclusion: that getting natural gas out of the ground poses a risk to public health. Two men, two calculations, and two very different consequences.

Prologue.

Host Ira Glass tells the stories of two professors, each making a calculation that no one had made before. One gets acclaim. One ends up out of a job. The first, , , a geologist at Penn State, was estimating the amount of natural gas that’s recoverable from the Marcellus shale, a giant rock formation that’s under Pennsylvania and several other Eastern states. The second, , Conrad “Dan” Volz, at the University of Pittsburgh, estimated how much toxic crap—chemicals and pollution from gas exploration—might be getting into water supplies. (6 1/2 minutes)

Act One. You’ve Got Shale.

Producer Sarah Koenig continues the story Terry Engelder and Dan Volz, their rival calculations about natural gas in Pennsylvania, and how each was treated by his university. She explains how Pennsylvania’s universities, politicans and industry have united to develop natural gas. Other states have been more cautious. (26 1/2 minutes)

Act Two. Ground War.

Sarah takes us to Mt. Pleasant, PA, where a gas exploration company called Range Resources has leased 95% of the township’s land. This led to a standoff between Mt. Pleasant and Range, starting with zoning disputes and ending in a full scale PR war—a war in which the town was seriously outgunned. (23 1/2 minutes)

Listen to the full story here.

 

 

From Scientific American:

The French parliament voted on June 30 to ban the controversial technique for extracting natural gas from shale rock deposits known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the web sites of Le Monde and other French media reported.

The bill had already passed the National Assembly, the country’s lower chamber, on June 21, and on June 30 a Senate vote of 176 to 151 made France the first country to enact such a ban, just as New York State is preparing to lift a moratorium on the same method.

The vote was divided along party lines, with the majority conservative party voting in favor and the opposition voting against the bill, according to Le Monde. The Socialist Party, in particular, opposed the bill because it did not go far enough. The bill’s critics said that it left open possible loopholes and that in particular it does not prevent the exploitation of oil shale deposits by techniques other than fracking. An earlier version of the bill, which the Socialists had supported, would have banned any kind of development of the deposits, Le Monde reported.

Companies that currently own permits for drilling in oil shale deposits on French land will have two months to notify the state what extraction technique they use. If they declare to be using fracking, or if they fail to respond, their permits will be automatically revoked.

Fracking requires the injection of vast quantities of water and potentially hazardous chemicals into the ground to force the release of natural gas. The U.S. government is investigating the environmental impact of the technique, which critics say produces toxic waste and pollutes water wells.

From

“I was concerned before I heard all this,” said one resident at the end of the meeting. “Now I am terrified….” She had heard local scientist and world renowned author Sandra Steingraber explain that 40% to 70% water used in the hydrofracking process never sees the light of day again. “When you brush your teeth leaving tap water running, you are not “wasting” water in the sense that it goes into the sewage system and eventually enters a stream, a river, a lake or the ocean, evaporates, turns into rain and and falls to earth to facilitate life once again.” But the water frackers poison and then inject into the earth is gone…forever.” Steingraber, a biologist who has written extensively about environmental toxins, also expressed grave concerns about the level of carbon emissions and methane leakage which inevitably accompany large-scale industrial hydrofracking operations.

From

Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – is a process used by energy companies to get natural gas out of the ground. Fracking involves forcing water, sand and chemicals underground to fracture rocks and release the natural gas trapped within them. But what happens to those chemicals once they’ve been injected into the ground?

That depends upon whom you ask. In a joint effort with ProPublica, the non-profit investigative journalist organization, Need to Know sent correspondent John Larson to Wyoming, where some residents believe fracking is contaminating their water and risking their health. Need to Know airs Fridays on PBS. Watch full-length episodes of Need to Know

From Ithaca Journal:

Scientists from Cornell University and Ithaca College briefed congressional aides Friday on what they say is a lack of research on the health and environmental impacts of a natural gas drilling process called hydraulic fracturing.

”Fracking is surrounded by metaphors rather than data,” said Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and scholar in residence at Ithaca College. “Many of the chemicals used in fracking are carcinogens.”

Federal energy officials announced Thursday they will create a working group to study hydraulic fracturing. Energy Secretary Steven Chu wants the panel of scientists, environmentalists and industry representatives to report within 90 days on ”immediate steps that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of fracking.”

Panel members will issue a second report within 180 days, providing advice also to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department.

But a leading House Republican doesn’t want more studies.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., issued a statement Thursday saying the panel violates the administration’s pledge to reduce government waste, since the EPA and Interior officials already have studies underway.

“While it might take numerous government agencies to smoke a salmon, there are also too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to the regulation of our nation’s energy supplies,” Upton said.

The Interior Department is examining whether new leases for drilling on federal land should require drillers to disclose the chemicals they add to water and sand to crack open shale deposits of natural gas.

And EPA has a yearlong study underway on whether federal drinking water laws should apply to hydraulic fracturing.

The three scientists who spoke at Friday’s briefing — two from Cornell and one from Ithaca — said the hydraulic fracturing procedure is 60 years old, but its use in shale formations was developed over the last 10 years.

Cornell Engineering Professor Anthony Ingraffea said the technology has been used to drill only about 20,000 wells into shale formations.

”This is not your grandmother’s gas well,” Ingraffea said.

He said hydraulic fracturing in shale formations uses more water and sand, and produces more waste than conventional natural gas wells.

Robert Howarth, who teaches ecology and environmental biology at Cornell, recently released a study showing that hydraulic fracturing contributes more to global warming than burning coal does, in large part because the process creates methane leaks.

Those leaks increase as wells age, but new technologies can reduce it as much as 90 percent, Howarth said. He said methane leaks also are a problem with natural gas transmission lines. About half the nation’s 3.1 million miles of lines are more than 50 years old.

More.

Image from here.

From Times-Tribune:

A state environmental group is calling on lawmakers to restrict natural gas drilling near places people live, learn and work after it released a study Thursday showing hundreds of wells have been planned or drilled next to schools and hospitals.

The study by PennEnvironment found that Marcellus Shale gas wells have been permitted or drilled within two miles of 320 day cares, 67 schools and nine hospitals in the state, putting “our most vulnerable populations at risk,” PennEnvironment field director Adam Garber said.

State law restricts drilling within 200 feet of an occupied building regardless of its use, but local and state elected officials have introduced bills and ordinances to expand that buffer.

The PennEnvironment study found that the closest day care is 400 feet from a permitted well site, the closest school is 900 feet away and the closest hospital is half a mile away.

Although the study shows that a school and day care in Lackawanna County are each within two miles of permitted well sites, the permits for those wells expired without drilling taking place.

In Susquehanna County, wells have been drilled on Elk Lake School District property, and another well is permitted within 2,000 feet of a district school. In Wyoming County, Tyler Memorial Hospital is about a mile and a half from the closest permitted well.

The study did not look at the proximity of gas processing plants or compressor stations to schools, day cares and hospitals and it did not take into account traffic violations or accidents involving trucks operating near those facilities.

Mr. Garber said blowouts and spills at shale wells in the state demonstrate the hazards of the extraction process. A recent blowout of a Chesapeake Energy well in Bradford County that allowed toxic wastewater to reach a waterway was in a remote area, he said.

“God forbid it happen next to an elementary school,” he said.

More.

From Denton Record-Chronicle:

A mother directs her four children about the living room, helping each to comb through an assortment of papers, books, blankets and clothing. One child closes a cardboard box and carries it upstairs to a spare bedroom, already stacked high with boxes and plastic bins filled with shoes, craft supplies and keepsakes. The door to the adjacent room — the library — remains shut, the books since removed from shelves and poured into boxes that fill the room. More boxes spill out into the upstairs hallway.

In one of her rare trips upstairs to her boys’ room, Rebekah Sheffield notices a bottle collection that sits on the shelf. “I thought I told him to pack those up,” she huffs.

Since July, the Sheffields have been packing to leave their home in the country. They look forward to the day the house will be left in the rearview mirror. But outside, no moving truck waits in the driveway. No “For Sale” sign sits in the grass. The family has neither sold their home nor bought another.

They have nowhere to go.

Downstairs, boxes line the kitchen and sit atop shelves encircling the dining room. Nearly every crevice in their home has been filled with moving boxes, each neatly stacked and labeled with its contents.

The Sheffield family is packing up 15 years’ worth of belongings, collecting the items that can be stored away and keeping the necessities out, for now.

They want to be ready. They hope to move far away from Dish, far enough to escape the pollution. . . .

Each day, Dish officials estimate, about 1 billion cubic feet of gas travels through three metering stations, more than 20 major gas gathering pipelines and 11 compression plants that have been shoehorned into the town’s two square miles by energy companies.

The Sheffields are among many residents who have lodged complaints with local, state and federal officials about the noise and odors coming from facilities so loosely regulated that toxic emissions, whether the release is intentional or accidental, go unreported and uncounted.

When the wind blows from the compressor stations to the southeast and emissions are high — leaving a strangely sweet odor hanging in the air — those are the days Rebekah Sheffield and her family feel the worst. Her husband, Warren, frequently checks the readings of a new state air ambient monitor online. When the wind is blowing from the southeast, he often finds that the ambient air levels of the 46 toxic compounds being monitored are higher than normal.

“We know that we just can’t stay — for our health,” Warren Sheffield says. “Every day here we feel worse. Every day we’re a little bit sicker. We’re going to have to do something.”

Full article here.

From New York Times:

But the relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks. It involves injecting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas.

With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.

While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.

The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.

Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. Their concern is based partly on a 2009 study, never made public, written by an E.P.A. consultant who concluded that some sewage treatment plants were incapable of removing certain drilling waste contaminants and were probably violating the law.

The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A.and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.

But the E.P.A. has not intervened. . . .

Full article.

%d bloggers like this: