The agency finally admits that the process may contaminate drinking water.
In the final version of a study first issued in 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reversed its previously held position that hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”) has little effect on drinking water.
An EPA science advisor said that the previous conclusion “could not be quantitatively supported.” Indeed!
Fracking is a method of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand, and any of 596 different proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.
In many cases, the cocktail of chemicals used by fracking companies are claimed as trade secrets and are unknown to the communities in which the drilling is taking place. Scientists have found among them chemicals like benzene, ethylbenzene, xylene, barium, radium, and strontium, most of which are unsafe even at low levels. The documentary Gasland revealed tap water so contaminated it can be set on fire right out of the tap, along with chronically ill residents with similar symptoms in drilling areas across the country, and huge pools of toxic waste that kill livestock and vegetation.
Now that the EPA has reversed its untenable position, will the agency do anything about the problem?
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health: