Thursday, August 4, 2011

EPA Report: Fracking Contaminated Drinking Water

CONTACT: EWG Public Affairs: 202.667.6982.

Washington, D.C.– Contrary to the drilling industry claim that hydraulic fracturing has never contaminated groundwater, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded in a 1987 study that “fracking” of a natural gas well in West Virginia

contaminated an underground drinking water source. That all-but-forgotten report to Congress, uncovered by Environmental Working Group and Earthjustice, found that fracturing gel from a shale gas well more than 4,000 feet deep had contaminated well water.

EPA investigators concluded that the contamination was “illustrative” of a broader problem of pollution associated with hydraulic fracturing but said the agency’s investigation was hampered by confidentiality agreements between industry and affected landowners. Environmental Working Group’s year-long investigation of the incident found that several abandoned natural gas wells located near the fractured well in West Virginia could have served as conduits that allowed the gel, a common ingredient in fracking fluid, to migrate into the water well.

“When you add up the gel in the water, the presence of abandoned wells and the documented ability of drilling fluids to migrate through these wells into underground water supplies, there is a lot of evidence that EPA got it right and that this was indeed a case of hydraulic fracturing contamination of groundwater,” said Dusty Horwitt, EWG’s senior oil and gas analyst and author of “Cracks in the Façade,” EWG’s report about EPA’s finding.

“Now it’s up to EPA to pick up where it left off 25 years ago and determine the true risks of fracking so that our drinking water can be protected.”

Since the 1987 report, the industry has hydraulically fractured hundreds of thousands of wells and is continuing a historic push into natural gas-bearing shale formations, once considered inaccessible, that lie beneath populated areas in a number of states, including West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana and Arkansas.

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  1. I guess someone ought to tell Gov. Hickenlooper about this article. He is quoted in a Denver Post Opinion article as telling the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, ""Everyone in this room understands that hydraulic fracturing doesn't connect to groundwater, that it's almost inconceivable that groundwater will be contaminated."

    The article also describes the fracking process as one that "involves pumping large quantities of water and sand, and a tiny amount of chemicals," I guess the oil & gas industry has fooled the Post with the 1% fracking fluids statement. I don't think that 20,000- 40,000 gallons per fracking incident is "tiny".

    Read more: Editorial: Public disclosure of fracking fluids - The Denver Post


  3. So, out of hundreds of thousands of wells that have been fracked over the last 40 years, you found one "smoking gun"? If there were numerous abandoned wells nearby that may have served as conduits for fluids to migrate upwards, is it logical to assert that the fracking process caused the problem? Seems to me the problem was that the other wells weren't properly plugged and abandonment. Had the state properly done its job to assure proper closure of the other wells, that isolated case wouldn't have happened. Governor Hickenlooper has this issue right and is looking at it with common sense.

  4. I disagree with the Aug 9 person's comment. In any investigation there is ALWAYS an intitial piece of data that leads to others to set the foundation for revealing the truth. I agree with you when you admit wells are faulty. They are faulty by nature because they were created by humans. Hydraulic fracturing is not a precise science, in fact many people say it's not a true science altogether. It is the mantra of the O&G Industry to think 'fracking' does not consist of the entire operation and its procedures. The entire process is at fault from both groundwater and surface water contamination. I don't need to be Einstein to assume the probability of fracking failures. They are as real as you getting a flat tire on the road or you knowing someone with cancer.

    You can blame past drilling companies for future problems. I can agree with that, just as we will both be blaming the O&G industry for our problems 10-20 years from now from the very wells in which you defend.

    The 'smoking gun' is the clear denial of any liability and Republican greed. One must be paid well to be a liar for the rest of their life...

    ReplyDelete is a medium for concerned citizens to express their opinions in regards to 'Fracking.' We are Representatives of Democracy. We are Fractivists. We are you.