more on fracking

posted September 8, 2010

The latest from the US EPA on public health dangers from hydrofracking for methane.

From this article
“The federal government is warning residents in a small Wyoming town with extensive natural gas development not to drink their water, and to use fans and ventilation when showering or washing clothes in order to avoid the risk of an explosion.”
“Researchers found benzene, metals, naphthalene, phenols and methane in wells and in groundwater.”
This is the first systematic look at drinking water contamination from hydrofracking by the EPA.
89% of the wells tested had contamination with hydrocarbons.
Substance in the drinking water included chemicals only found in fracking fluids, not naturally or from farming contamination.
The methane in the drinking water wells was from deep sources being tapped for methane, not from surface bacterial decay. This from the EPA’s isotopic ‘fingerprinting’ of the methane.
The EPA’s documents on this are at
This is the most aggressive the EPA has been to this point. Still their regulatory hands are largely tied by the “Halliburton Exemption” with allows pollution of drinking water from hydrofracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act (yes, that’s true).
From these EPA reports it’s pretty clear that the gas drilling contaminated the drinking water aquifer that lies above the deeper strata where the gas lies underground. This in contradiction to the ‘science’ that is the basis of the Halliburton Exemption. That ‘science’ (which was even dubious at the time that it was put forward by the EPA -2004)  claimed that neither the chemicals used in fracking, nor the methane extracted, could enter the upper layers including the  drinking water aquifer.   That belief was not based on systematic study of drinking water. Such a systematic study is now available with this EPA report, and the results should concern us all.
On the basis of this new knowledge,  hydrofracking, and the Halliburton Exemption, clearly represent an major public health threat.  Widespread hydrofracking is currently being proposed in the northeast (8-12 well per square mile per Chesapeake Co website).  With the northeast’s high population density the introduction of potent carcinogens like benzene into the aquifers and drinking water could threaten the health of tens of millions of people.
~Ken Jaffe
Slope Farms