Study: Fracking a contamination risk


Steve Chiotakis: Well this morning, Congress is scheduled to look into ExxonMobil's planned purchase of natural gas giant XTO Energy. But the hearing may be less about the buy-out than controversial drilling practices natural gas producers use. From the Marketplace sustainability desk, here's Sam Eaton.

Sam Eaton: It's called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Energy companies inject water, sand and chemicals into rock formations. That creates thousands of cracks in the rock freeing up hard-to-reach oil and gas reserves.

But a new study by the Environmental Working Group says the process can also contaminate ground water with known carcinogens, like benzene. That's why the report's author, Dusty Horwitt, says Congress needs to regulate fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Right now, oil and gas companies are exempt.

Dusty Horwitt: You know, the industry has talked about the cost that, you know, it will have to pay to comply with these laws that everyone else has to comply with. But they don't talk so much about the cost of cleaning up contaminated water, which can be astronomical.

Horwitt says water contamination in upstate New York, for example, would force New York City to spend billions of dollars building a new treatment plant. The oil industry says fracking is completely safe.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.
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The EPA's "extensive studies" reflect data collected from 1998 PRIOR to the use of high volume horizontal hydrofracturing technologies that use more water and more chemicals at higher pressures than previously available drilling technologies. Therefore any studies done, will not be addressing the relevant issues of the current technology, which at best are suspect and at worst are downright dangerous to the health and safety of Americans living in states where these methods are utilized. NY State EPA region 2 has determined in its own assessment, that the current methods of drilling need more study and pose significant risks to the NYC watershed.

Does one need "scientific bonafides" to draw the conclusion that the sudden appearance of chemicals in ground water used in fracking might be caused by the process?

If fracturing doesn't harm ground water, why are people being sickened in Grand Junction, Colorado by the chemicals used in fracturing?

Why wouldn't fracking be a risk? Injecting toxic waste into the ground is one way to get rid of it. What else would they do with it? Leach ponds? spray it onto fields and roads and crops? Put it in chemtrails and slow global warming? Contaminated ground and creek water killed our son. see website: www.earthspeak.org 50 ppb chromium was supposed to be "safe." We found 49 ppb in his vomit after he died.

The Environmental Working Group has no scientific bonafides to assess hydraulic fracturing. The EPA conducted extensive studies in 2004 which established that the technique poses no threat to drinking water. EPA Administrator Carol Browner took the same position in the Clinton Administration.

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