Tuesday, August 25, 2009

EPA preliminary findings of fracking chemicals in drinking water

This is a great article about the EPA preliminary findings in Pavillion, Wyoming. If it is so, this would be the first, and certainly not the last, where science proves water contamination from oil and gas chemicals.

It is about time the gas and oil industry be accountable and this study could be the one thing that forces them to follow the rules of all other industries. There is a flicker of hope now that the EPA has become involved in the testing. Too bad they didn't wake up sooner.

But the Oil & Gas industry free ticket to contaminate our precious resources could end soon. It is important that you let your member of Congress or Senator know how important it is to co-sponsor the Frac Act bills below.
They are currently pending in legislation.

S. 1215 - Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act
A bill to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to repeal a certain exemption for hydraulic fracturing, and for other purposes.

H.R. 2766 - Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act of 2009


Here are a few paragraphs from the article. Go the the above link to read the complete story.

Federal environment officials investigating drinking water contamination [1] near the ranching town of Pavillion, Wyo., have found that at least three water wells contain a chemical used in the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracturing. Scientists also found traces of other contaminants, including oil, gas or metals, in 11 of 39 wells tested there since March.

The study, which is being conducted under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, is the first time the EPA has undertaken its own water analysis in response to complaints of contamination in drilling areas, and it could be pivotal in the national debate [2] over the role of natural gas in America’s energy policy.

Abundant gas reserves are being aggressively developed in 31 states, including New York [3] and Pennsylvania [4]. Congress is mulling a bill [5] that aims to protect those water resources from hydraulic fracturing, the process in which fluids and sand are injected under high pressure to break up rock and release gas. But the industry says environmental regulation is unnecessary [6] because it is impossible for fracturing fluids to reach underground water supplies and no such case has ever been proven.

Scientists in Wyoming will continue testing this fall to determine the level of chemicals in the water and exactly where they came from. If they find that the contamination did result from drilling, the placid plains arching up to the Wind River Range would become the first site where fracturing fluids have been scientifically linked to groundwater contamination.

EPA officials also said they had found no pesticides – a signature of agricultural contamination – and no indication that any industry or activity besides drilling could be to blame. Other than farming, there is no industry in the immediate area.

EPA officials told residents that some of the substances found in their water may have been poured down a sink drain. But according to EPA investigation documents, most of the water wells were flushed three times before they were tested in order to rid them of anything that wasn’t flowing through the aquifer itself. That means the contaminants found in Pavillion would have had to work their way from a sink not only into the well but deep into the aquifer at significant concentrations in order to be detected. An independent drinking water expert with decades of experience in central Wyoming, Doyle Ward, dismissed such an explanations as "less than a one in a million" chance.

Some of the EPA’s most cautious scientists are beginning to agree.
"It starts to finger point stronger and stronger to the source being somehow related to the gas development, including, but not necessarily conclusively, hydraulic fracturing itself," said Nathan Wiser, an EPA scientist and hydraulic fracturing expert

The study has already cost $130,000. Many residents living near gas drilling don't have that kind of cash laying around to do their own studies. Which may be one reason the industry has gotten away with it for so long. The passing of the pending bills will make it easier and less expensive to investigate this type of contamination for the EPA.

EPA officials have repeatedly said that disclosure of the fluids used in fracking – something that would be required if the bill being debated in Congress were passed – would enable them to investigate contamination incidents faster, more conclusively and for less money. The current study, which is expected to end next spring, has already cost $130,000.

Precise details about the nature and cause of the contamination, as well as the extent of the plume running in the aquifer beneath this region 150 miles east of Jackson Hole, have been difficult for scientists to collect. That’s in part because the identity of the chemicals used by the gas industry for drilling and fracturing are protected as trade secrets [1], and because the EPA, based on an exemption passed under the 2005 Energy Policy Act, does not have authority to investigate the fracturing process under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Using the Superfund program gave the agency extra authority to investigate the Pavillion reports, including the right to subpoena the secret information if it needs to. It also unlocked funding to pay for the research.

"How in god’s name can the oil industry dump sh*t in our drinking water and not tell us what it is?" shouted Alan Hofer, who lives near the center of the sites being investigated by the EPA.
"If they’d tell us what they were using then you could go out and test for things and it would make it a lot easier right?" asked Jim Van Dorn, who represents Wyoming Rural Water, a non-profit that advises utilities and private well owners on water management.
"Exactly," said Luke Chavez, the EPA’s chief Superfund investigator on the project. "That’s our idea too."
Now that the EPA has found a chemical used in fracturing fluids in Pavillion’s drinking water, Chavez said the next step in the research is to ask Encana for a list of the chemicals it uses and then do more sampling using that list. (An Encana spokesman told ProPublica the company will supply any information that the EPA requires.) The EPA is also working with area health departments, a toxicologist and a representative from the Centers for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to assess health risks, he said.
Depending on what they find, the investigation in Wyoming could have broad implications. Before hydraulic fracturing was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005, the EPA assessed the process and concluded it did not pose a threat to drinking water. That study, however, did not involve field research or water testing and has been criticized as incomplete.

This spring, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson called some of the contamination reports "startling" and told members of Congress [8] that it is time to take another look. The Pavillion investigation, according to Chavez, is just that.
"If there is a problem, maybe we don’t have the tools, or the laws, to deal with it," Chavez said. "That’s one of the things that could come out of this process."

Below are a few more stories previously posted about water contamination from gas drilling.


Don't think it can happen here. What you don't know may make you sick or even kill you. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIAL TODAY!!

1 comment:

TRẦN HƯNG CƯỜNG ( T.H.C ) said...

Sex Male
Age: 36
I'm Vietnamese
I'm interested in chemicals.
I like your post.
But, i know alittle bit of English, so can read slow.
I hope i will have more your post.