Study Shows That Fracking Fluids are Tainting Drinking Water–Where Is the State of Wyoming? Where Are the Feds? Flaming water laden with chemicals poisoning drinking water–when will the EPA finally say enough is enough?
A new study by researchers from Stanford shows definitive proof that fracking is poisoning drinking water supplies in Wyoming.
Pavilion, Wyoming where the study took place, is a town of 231 people and nearly as many oil and gas wells. And the findings were not pretty: the researchers found there were widespread unsafe practices like:
- Dumping of drilling and production fluids
- Dumping of diesel fuel
- Storing these fluids in unlined pits without concrete barriers to prevent leaching out into the surrounding soil, and thus into the groundwater
Perhaps most frightening of all, these practices are not against the law.
“This is a wake-up call,” said the study’s lead author Dominic DiGiulio. “It’s perfectly legal to inject stimulation fluids into underground drinking water resources. This may be causing widespread impacts on drinking water resources.”
The “frackwater” that drilling companies inject into the ground is made up of proprietary blends that include potentially dangerous chemicals such as benzene and xylene. When the wastewater comes back up after use, it brings with it not only those chemicals, but also a range of potentially dangerous natural chemicals, hence the famous flaming tap water that we’ve seen in Pennsylvania and other fracking sites.
And although the Stanford study is the first to definitively link fracking to tainted water, this isn’t the first time that the issue has been looked at.
Residents of Pavilion complained as far back as 2008 about a foul taste and odor in their drinking water and questioned whether it was related to physical ailments. In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued preliminary findings that suggested fracking was to blame.
But the agency blinked in the face of fierce pushback from the oil and gas industry as well as state regulators, and declined to finalize the report. Instead they dithered for three years before finally handing it off to the state, which offered up several mealy-mouthed lackluster reports full of qualifiers but no real solid conclusions.
Meanwhile, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says residents should avoid bathing, cooking or drinking using tap water.
How many different ways do we have to watch industry poison the planet before we force the agencies that are supposed to protect us to do their jobs? How many people have to be poisoned, and sicken or even die before we come to our senses?