Thursday, June 4, 2015

Good News & Bad: Draft of EPA fracking study finally released:

The EPA has just released a draft of their long awaited study
of hydraulic fracturing on groundwater:


Finally, EPA is explicitly stating what those of us living near the gasfields have known for a long time, that gas drilling and fracking does contaminate ground water. Recall this is something EPA have denied for years. From page 8 of the Executive Summary:
Major Findings 
``From our assessment, we conclude there are above and below ground mechanisms by which hydraulic fracturing activities have the potential to impact drinking water resources. These mechanisms include water withdrawals in times of, or in areas with, low water availability; spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids and produced water; fracturing directly into underground drinking water resources; below ground migration of liquids and gases; and inadequate treatment and discharge of wastewater.``

"There's not much Spam in it!"

The report also concludes that while there have been some cases of water contamination, the number was "small".

This reminds me of the Monty Python sketch were the woman in the restaurant is complaining that she doesn't like Spam, but everything on the menu seems to have Spam in it. When she complains, the waiter offers her "Spam, eggs, sausage, and Spam" because it's "not got much Spam in it".

Continuing page 8 of the Executive Summary:
``We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States. Of the potential mechanisms identified in this report, we found specific instances where one or more mechanisms led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells. The number of identified cases, however, was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells.``
What the EPA fails to mention is that in fact there is data which suggests that this contamination HAS been widespread. As documented in Josh Fox's GASLAND movies, there have been complaints of water contamination in every place where fracking has been tried.

As the following map shows, according to the PA DEP's own data, obtained through a Right to Know request, and reported by Laura Legere in the Scranton Times Tribune, there have been nearly 969 complaints of water contamination from gas drilling activity state-wide.

Source: Sunday Times review of DEP drilling records reveals water damage, murky testing methods By Laura Legere, May 19, 2013:

Please note that this dataset is several years old, and only includes reports between 2008 and the fall of 2012. So the number of problems could be double by now.

Since I live in Broome County NY,  near NE PA, where many of my friends and family live, I decided to graph the complaints that the Times-Tribune uncovered.

The granularity of the dataset is only to the township level. Specific addresses are mostly redacted.I used a "log scale" for the color gradient, so each color change represents a doubling in the number of complaints.

1 comment:

Paul Henschen said...

Very eye-opening. Thank you!