Pennsylvania

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Fracking Linked to Groundwater Pollution, Including High Levels of Carcinogens

In an earlier post we wrote about an EPA report out Thursday that links fracking with groundwater contamination. I asked the EPA about the health risks of drinking that water, and here’s their response.

“Our concern is about the migration of contaminants in the aquifer and
the safety of drinking water wells over time.  Sample results indicate
that a number of drinking water and stock wells have low-level
detections of organic compounds.  In monitoring wells, health and safety
values for several contaminants were exceeded, including benzene
concentrations orders of magnitude above Safe Drinking Water Act
standards and pH at levels that present a contact and ingestion threat.
These monitoring wells are in close proximity to drinking water wells.
There is no known geologic barrier separating the contamination found in
the monitoring wells from the water in nearby drinking water wells.
Without more information on flow direction and contaminant movement,
significant uncertainty exists regarding specific future impacts to
drinking water wells.  Our sample results reflect a single snapshot in
time and we are unable to determine any trends or changes in condition.”
EPA officials have instructed the residents of Pavilion, Wyo. not to drink their water and to keep their windows open when showering. One thing mentioned in the EPA’s report was the challenges facing researchers who did not have access to the names and concentrations of all the chemicals used in fracking fluid. That’s because the natural gas industry is exempt from several federal statutes, including the Safe Drinking Water Act. For more on these exemptions, click here.

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