Health Effects of Water Contamination from Fracking

World-Renowned Scientist Dr. Theo Colborn on the Health Effects of Water Contamination from Fracking

Coburn

The Environmental Protection Agency has begun a review of how the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” can affect drinking water quality. We speak to Dr. Theo Colborn, the president of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange and one of the foremost experts on the health and environmental effects of the toxic chemicals used in fracking.

To listen to the webcast or read the transcript of the program, click here:

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/4/14/world_renowned_scientist_dr_theo_colborn#

What PA residents think of Range Resources

Here is some excellent video of the meeting with range Resources that took place in Washington County, PA today. Thanks txSharon!

http://txsharon.blogspot.com/2010/04/7-videos-what-pa-residents-thinks-of.html

Gas and drilling not clean choices

Robert Howarth

Natural gas is marketed as a clean fuel with less impact on global warming than oil or coal, a transitional fuel to replace other fossil fuels until some distant future with renewable energy. Some argue that we have an obligation to develop Marcellus Shale gas, despite environmental concerns. I strongly disagree.

Natural gas as a clean fuel is a myth. While less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than oil or coal, emissions during combustion are only part of the concern. Natural gas is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas with 72 times more potential than carbon dioxide to warm our planet (per molecule, averaged over the 20 years following emission). I estimate that extraction, transport and combustion of Marcellus gas, together with leakage of methane, makes this gas at least 60 percent more damaging for greenhouse warming than crude oil and similar in impact to coal.

The most recent method of hydro-fracking is relatively new technology, massive in scope and far from clean in ways beyond greenhouse gas emissions. The landscape could be dotted with thousands of drilling pads, spaced as closely as one every 40 acres. Compacted gravel would cover three to five acres for each. New pipelines and access roads crisscrossing the landscape would connect the pads. Ten or more wells per pad are expected. Every time a well is “fracked,” 1,200 truck trips will carry the needed water.

Drillers will inject several million gallons of water and tens of thousands of pounds of chemicals into each well. Some of this mixture will stay deep in the shale, but cumulatively, billions of gallons of waste fluids will surface. Under current law, drillers can use absolutely any chemical additive or waste, with no restrictions and no disclosure. Recent experience in Pennsylvania indicates regular use of toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic substances. Out of 24 wells sampled there, flow-back wastes from every one contained high levels of 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide, (according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation). It is one of the most mutagenic compounds known. Flow-back wastes also contain toxic metals and high levels of radioactivity extracted from the shale, in addition to the materials used by drillers.

Industry tells us that surface and groundwater contamination is unlikely, since gas is deep in the ground and drilling operations are designed to minimize leakage. Nonsense. The technology is new and understudied, but early evidence shows high levels of contamination in some drinking water wells and rivers in other states.

Accidents happen, and well casings and cementing can fail. The geology of our region is complex, and water and materials under high pressure can move quickly to aquifers, rivers and lakes along fissures and fractures. Flow-back waters and associated chemical and radioactive wastes must be handled and stored at the surface, some in open pits and ponds unless government regulation prevents this. What will keep birds and wildlife away from it? What happens downstream if a heavy rain causes the toxic soup to overflow the dam? What happens to these wastes? Adequate treatment technologies and facilities do not exist.

What about government regulation and oversight? The DEC is understaffed,underfunded and has no history with the scale and scope of exploitation now envisioned. Federal oversight is almost completely gone, due to Congress exempting gas development from most environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, in 2005.

We can be independent of fossil fuels within 20 years and rely on renewable green technologies, such as wind and solar. The constraints on this are mostly political, not technical. We do not need to sacrifice a healthy environment to industrial gas development. Rather, we need to mobilize and have our region provide some badly needed national leadership toward a sustainable energy future.

Disposable Workers of the oil and Gas Fields

Read the article here:

http://www.hcn.org/issues/343/16915

After watching Split Estate a few weeks ago and seeing some of the terrible effects the gas drilling industry can have on human lives and health, my mind started asking questions about the workers at these sites. If someone living 200 yards away from a well pad can have health problems that effect them neurologically to the point they can’t speak, have trouble breathing, splitting headaches, aching joints and bodily pain, and never have touched or come into hands on contact (although they probably are in their drinking water and through showering) with the chemicals used to Frack a well, then what happens to the guys who frack the wells and actually live in this stuff for weeks, months, even years?

There were some disturbing images of wells being fracked in the film Split Estate that show rig workers being doused with frack fluids while wearing nothing but T-shirts and coveralls. But we rarely hear anything about how the workers are treated or how many health issues they have and how the industry has been dealing with it.

Broad Scope of EPA’s Fracturing Study

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica – April 7, 2010 7:09 am EDT

A federal study of hydraulic fracturing [1] set to begin this spring is expected to provide the most expansive look yet at how the natural gas drilling process can affect drinking water supplies, according to interviews with EPA officials and a set of documents outlining [2] the scope of the project. The research will take a substantial step beyond previous studies and focus on how a broad range of ancillary activity – not just the act of injecting fluids under pressure – may affect drinking water quality.

The oil and gas industry strongly opposes this new approach. The agency’s intended research “goes well beyond relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water,” said Lee Fuller, vice president of government affairs for the Independent Petroleum Association of America in comments [3] (PDF) he submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Read the rest here:

http://www.propublica.org/feature/broad-scope-of-epas-fracturing-study-raises-ire-of-gas-industry

Gas Pains….in Frackland

Here’s a new blog by a reporter from Voices in Center County, PA.

Her first post is the article that just came out in the April issue. This article is full of stories from a variety of places in PA and really brings some tough questions to the forfront of what other papers are only skirting around.

http://frackland.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/marcellus-drilling-transforms-the-state/

Gasland on PBS

Tapwater on fire

Here’s a link to the coverage PBS did on “Gasland”.

This film won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/613/index.html