Environmental News Service
Blue Ridge Press
By Sharon Guynup
Elsewhere, residents of Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wyoming and other states who thought they'd hit the lottery by signing natural gas drilling leases have watched their drinking water turn noxious: slick, brown, foamy, flammable.
In December, for the first time, federal regulators scientifically linked hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to the contamination of an aquifer, refuting repeated industry claims that the practice does not pollute drinking water.
It happened in the rural ranching community of Pavillion, Wyoming, an area riddled with 162 natural gas wells dug between 1990 and 2006. Despite a decade of complaints from residents that their reeking water was undrinkable - and that many suffered from nerve damage, asthma, heart trouble and other health problems - state officials did nothing.
Finally the EPA stepped in, launching a three-year study running from 2008 to 2011.
In its report, the EPA identified numerous fracking chemicals in Pavillion's water. Cancer-causing benzene was found at 50 times safe levels, along with other hazardous chemicals, methane, diesel fuel, and toxic metals - in both groundwater and deep wells.
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