Fracking, Shale Gas
and Health

Fracking and Health Awareness Project

Aquifer Risks

Study Finds High Levels of Arsenic in Groundwater Near Fracking Sites

01/31/2014

A recently published study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale.

While the findings are far from conclusive, the study provides further evidence tying fracking to arsenic contamination. An internal Environmental Protection Agency PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times warned that wells near Dimock, Pa., showed elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater. The EPA also found arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in Pavillion, Wyo., in 2009 — a study the agency later abandoned.

ProPublica talked with Brian Fontenot, the paper’s lead author, about how his team carried out the study and why it matters.

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Canadian National Farmers Union warns against fracking

01/31/2014

Alberta farmers who live near fracking installations lose the peace, quiet and beauty of their countryside. There is more noise, dust, light pollution, air pollution, traffic on and damage to country roads, damage to fields, loss of productive acres, interference with wildlife habitat, loss of recreation opportunities, potential water shortages, chemical spills on farmland and into surface waters, and reduction in property values. It is more time-consuming and costly to work land that is criss-crossed by fracking infrastructure. Emissions from wells and equipment may be hazardous to the health of people and animals. There is ever-present worry about the danger of irreversible contamination of groundwater and the resulting loss of wells for watering livestock, irrigating crops and domestic consumption.

Perhaps even more offensive than the tangible burdens that fracking imposes on farmers, are the attempts to silence and intimidate concerned rural citizens. The ERCB has a history of limiting access to its hearings by defining “affected party” very narrowly, thus denying voice to many who have legitimate concerns.

The NFU submission to the ERCB is framed by our call that its new regulatory approach be guided by the Precautionary Principle, “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation,” as Canada agreed to in the 1992 Rio Declaration.

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Canadian National Farmers Union warns against fracking

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Fracking, dead cows and…RADIATION?

11/12/2013

Alberta cattle rancher Howard Hawkwood has a beef with the local fracking industry. He’s convinced the controversial technique for gas extraction is responsible for killing off 18 of his cows and large swaths of his property near Airdrie, Alberta.

“These are the dead spots in the field, where my cows have urinated. This all showed up last spring…We’ve actually taken soil samples of the dead spot and a sample from a foot and a half away and we’ve got high levels of radon, barium, uranium, strontium, and magnesium is extremely high.”

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The Trillion-Gallon Loophole: Lax Rules for Drillers that Inject Pollutants Into the Earth

07/11/2013

According to a Pro Publica investigation, in the three-year period examined, operators pumped oil and gas drilling waste into Class 2 injection wells at pressure levels they knew could fracture rock and lead to leaks more than 1,000 times. In at least 140 cases, companies injected waste illegally or without a permit.
According to ProPublica, “Injection wells have proliferated over the last 60 years, in large part because they are the cheapest, most expedient way to manage hundreds of billions of gallons of industrial waste generated in the U.S. each year. Yet the dangers of injection are well known: In accidents dating back to the 1960s, toxic materials have bubbled up to the surface or escaped, contaminating aquifers that store supplies of drinking water.”

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Groups Urge Probe of EPA Actions in Texas Water Contamination Case

07/11/2013

A decision to drop legal action against a drilling company despite evidence that it polluted residents’ well water in Texas prompts outcry by more than 80 US organizations.
More than 80 organizations from 12 states and a New York state senator today called on the inspector general of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate a decision to drop legal action against a drilling company despite evidence that it had polluted residents’ well water near Fort Worth, Texas.
The organizations sent a letter to EPA Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr., asking him to broaden an ongoing investigation of a case that made national news last year when the EPA dropped an enforcement action against Range Resources Ltd. after earlier invoking rare emergency authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act. New York State Senator Tony Avella is sending a similar letter later today. Elkins began investigating the case after six U.S. senators asked him last June to determine whether EPA had followed proper procedures.

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EPA Links Water Contamination to Fracking in Pavillion, Wyoming

07/13/2012

In a first, federal environment officials today (Dec. 8, 2011) scientifically linked underground water pollution with hydraulic fracturing, concluding that contaminants found in central Wyoming were likely caused by the gas drilling process. …
Beginning in 2008, the EPA took water samples from resident’s drinking water wells,finding hydrocarbons and traces of contaminants that seemed like they could be related to fracking. In 2010, another round of sampling confirmed the contamination, and the EPA, along with federal health officials, cautioned residents not to drink their water and to ventilate their homes when they bathed because the methane in the water could cause an explosion.

To confirm their findings, EPA investigators drilled two water monitoring wells to 1,000 feet. The agency released data from these test wells in November that confirmed high levels of carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene, and a chemical compound called 2 Butoxyethanol, which is known to be used in fracking.

The findings by the Environmental Protection Agency come partway through a separate national study by the agency to determine whether fracking presents a risk to water resources.

In the 121-page draft report released today, EPA officials said that the contamination near the town of Pavillion, Wyo., had most likely seeped up from gas wells and contained at least 10 compounds known to be used in frack fluids.

The findings by the Environmental Protection Agency come partway through a separate national study by the agency to determine whether fracking presents a risk to water resources.

In the 121-page draft report released today, EPA officials said that the contamination near the town of Pavillion, Wyo., had most likely seeped up from gas wells and contained at least 10 compounds known to be used in frack fluids.

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