Gas drilling worker falls ill after drinking coffee made with fracking wastewater
“A former worker at a northeastern Pennsylvania gas drilling site has been fined $250 after another worker drank treated drilling water and became ill. The Times-Tribune of Scranton reports Jason Conklin was found guilty Monday on a summary disorderly conduct charge for the June incident in Dimock.”
Conklin told the judge he had put treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater into a bottle and left it in the break room. Another worker made a pot of coffee with the treated fracking flowback. When the victim drank the coffee, he immediately became nauseous and was taken to an area hospital for treatment.
Mr. Conklin apologized to the man who drank the water, saying he never intended for anyone to drink from the jug.
Judge Hollister found that by bringing the jug of treated frackwater into the break room, Mr. Conklin created a hazardous situation. . .
Mr. Conklin was employed at ComTech Industries at the time and was terminated shortly after the incident. ComTech provides on-site water treatment for Marcellus Shale fracturing, reclaiming frackwater to be reused in the natural gas drilling process. . .
Although the treated water has a sulfur smell, the victim said he does not have a sense of smell and quickly drank a cup of the coffee.
Fracking flowback contains toxic levels of salt brought up from the Marcellus Shale where ancient oceans are now buried a mile and more underground. It also contains the original fracking chemicals — many of which are known carcinogens and some of which can harm gastrointestinal, respiratory and other human health systems — as well as heavy metals and radionucleides.
The victim quickly realized there was something wrong with the coffee. The Scranton Times-Tribune reported:
“It was like putting 15 saltines in your mouth all at once,” he told the court.
The man said he was diagnosed with an intestinal irritation that he reported lasted four to five days.
On the stand, Mr. Conklin said he placed the jug of the treated water in the break room to use for test samples. No jars used for testing samples were available at the time, he said, and he wanted to preserve the treated sample.
“It wasn’t a prank,” Mr. Conklin said. “Someone could die.”