Fracked: the perils of shale exploration | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fracked: the perils of shale exploration

Posted By on Sat, Feb 26, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Jamie, where are you? Need the standard Conway Chamber of Commerce defense of the squeaky clean, road-protecting, bonanza-producing gas drillers. Please, put our minds at ease. From the New York Times on the dangers of hydrofracking following a review of 200 wells in Pennsylvania:


With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.

While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.

The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.

Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. ...

The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A. and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.

But the E.P.A. has not intervened. In fact, federal and state regulators are allowing most sewage treatment plants that accept drilling waste not to test for radioactivity.

Another reason to raise the damn severance tax to pay enough regulators to sufficiently oversee a dangerous operation that, in time, will be played out and leave Arkansas with dry holes, injected chemicals of uncertain composition, waste pits and other drilling detritus. I say this as a son of the Louisiana oil patch. If you think a national namebrand corporation is guarantee of sufficient self-policing, you are deluding yourself.

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