Guest Writer for Wake Up World
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released their assessment of coal-seam gas mining — or “Fracking” — and its impact on water resources. And it’s not pretty.
Massive controversy still surrounds the unconventional gas mining industry. The procedure for extracting natural gas (methane) from the Earth is called hydraulic fracturing otherwise known as Fracking. This entails drilling deep into the Earth, usually below ground water basins, and pumping a huge cocktail of chemicals mixed with sand to break apart sediment formations underground, thus releasing the gas for capture above. It sounds rather innocuous when you say it like that, but the reality is far from it.
The United States EPA recently released its five year long draft assessment entitled “Hydraulic Fracturing Drinking Water Assessment”. The report confirms what activists, whistleblowers, documentary film makers, and residents situated near drilling sites already knew — Fracking is bad news for our health and environement, and while it continues, there’s definite reason for concern.
The EPA now admits that ground water and surface water resources have already been contaminated by fracking: “We found specific instances where one or more mechanisms led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells.”
The report does however seem to downplay this shocking admission by saying that “the number of identified cases is small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells”. This is a poor comparison considering some water sources in counties across the U.S. have hundreds of wells in operation on top of them.
The report also looked at the implication of water usage by the fracking operations. Most of the U.S. is currently suffering a severe drought and fracking, if you didn’t already know, uses a massive amount of water. Consider this, according to the assessment there are approximately 30,000 NEW wells each year (2011-2014). Each well uses 5.7 million Litres of water each year. That’s 171 Billion Litres of water that can never be consumed by a living creature ever again after it’s used in the fracking process. For Australian readers, that’s about 14.3% of the capacity of the Wivenhoe dam in Queensland every year just on mining!
Mining companies in the United States and around the world for that matter have always used slick P.R campaigns, NGO’s and even government spokespeople, including President Obama, to reassure everyone that Fracking is safe and poses no threat to water sources and that drinking water contamination has never happened on record.
You may recall that in Queensland, Australia, a major mining company went as far as using National Rugby League (NRL) football great, Darren Lockyer, to reassure everyone that Fracking is safe, effective and poses no danger to residents around drill sites.
Safe, effective and no danger… Where have we heard that before? Looks like the mining giants are using the same propaganda used by the spin-doctors of the pharmaceutical industry.
The EPA’s assessment unfortunately doesn’t go into the other major concerns about the unconventional gas mining industry. Namely air pollution, destruction of land and private property, earthquakes which videographer and researcher Dutchsinse covers in great detail.
The enigmatic Erin Brockovich, whose legal battle with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) was the basis of the award-winning film Erin Brockovich, has eloquently detailed 5 important takeaways from this report…
5 Important Takeaways From the EPA’s Report
1. Oil and gas companies want you to know as little about fracking as possible. This EPA report offers no new research on whether fracking contaminates water supplies. Instead it relies on “available data and literature,” including previous investigations by state regulators into fracking-related water pollution. The main reason for this is that oil and gas companies did all they could to make gathering new data impossible. And they were able to do that because Congress and successive administrations have exempted them from so many federal pollution rules.
2. Opportunities abound for disaster. One thing the EPA’s report does detail is the many risks that fracking operations pose to drinking water both above and below ground— from mixing the fracking chemicals to injecting the fracking fluid into the well to handling the millions of gallons of toxic, radioactive waste water. So many ways that something could go wrong! Now you know why this report is more than 1,000 pages long.
3. Fracking is happening close to where we live. According to the EPA, “Between 2000 and 2013, approximately 9.4 million people lived within one mile of a hydraulically fractured well.”
4. Lots of fracking is also happening close to our water supplies. Again, according to the EPA: “Approximately 6,800 sources of drinking water for public water systems were located within one mile of at least one hydraulically fractured well … These drinking water sources served more than 8.6 million people year-round in 2013.” Suppose you’re lucky enough to live more than a mile from the nearest fracking site? EPA: “Hydraulic fracturing can also affect drinking water resources outside the immediate vicinity of a hydraulically fractured well.” What’s more, the EPA points out that in some places, such as Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, fracking happens at relatively shallow depths, where “oil and gas resources and drinking water resources co-exist in the same formation.”
5. What they don’t know could hurt you. Of the 1,076 chemicals used in fracking that the EPA could identify, the agency was able to assess the chemical, physical, and toxicological properties for fewer than half. Of those, the majority have the potential to “persist in the environment as long-term contaminants.” Great, but how many of them are potentially carcinogenic? The EPA could find data for about 90 of them, but offered a bureaucratic shrug of the shoulders as to what level of exposure people might have to those carcinogens. Feeling reassured yet?
Finally, Brockovich offered this summation; and I couldn’t have said it better myself…
We didn’t need 1,000 pages to figure out the obvious. We don’t even need 1,000 words. Here’s what we know: Fracking is a nationwide game of Russian roulette that puts an essential resource — drinking water — at risk every single day. The sooner it stops, the better.
What makes you think it’s any different in our own backyard?
Previous articles by Lee:
- Mainstream Media FINALLY Discusses Dangers of Fluoride and Other Toxins
- Trials for Medicinal Cannabis in Australia on the Horizon?
- The Psychological State of The State: the Societal ‘Stockholm Syndrome’
- Has HSBC Just Signaled the Countdown to the Next Big Financial Crash?
- Collusion for Illusion: Australia’s “Big 4” Banks are All Owned by the Same Financial Interest
- The Politics of Polarity: The ‘Hegelian Dialectic’ and its Use in Controlling Modern Society
- Queensland Student Given Gardasil Vaccination Without Parent’s Consent
About the author:
Lee “General” Maddox is the founder of realnewsaustralia.com, a site dedicated to offering an alternative view to government-controlled media, and helping people to challenge and question what they see on TV, read in newspapers & hear on the radio.