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“Hydraulic fracturing poses substantial water pollution risks, analysts say”

August 7, 2012

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Risk analysts have concluded that the disposal of contaminated wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) wells producing natural gas in the intensively developed Marcellus Shale region poses a substantial potential risk of river and other water pollution.

Expert risk analysts from Stony Brook University, taking a serious look at flowback — the toxic mess which comes back up from shale gas drilling and fracking — have concluded that the risks are posed not only from hydraulic fracturing chemicals, but (as we’ve been telling you for over three years) “the potential of drinking water contamination from salts and naturally occurring radioactive materials, such as uranium, radium and radon from the rapidly expanding fracking industry.”

The authors, Dr. Sheldon Reaven, Associate Professor and Director of Energy and Environmental Systems Concentration in the Department of Technology and Society, Stony Brook University; and doctoral student Daniel Rozell, P.E., said that the scale of the flowback waste problem is enormous:

Disposal of the large amounts of fracking well wastewater that is expected to be generated in the Marcellus Shale region–which covers approximately 124,000 square kilometers from New York to West Virginia–presents risks from salts and radioactive materials that are “several orders of magnitude larger” than for other potential water pollution pathways examined in the new study.

Even in the unlikely scenario that regulators crack down on industry, and industry responds by developing a “cleaner greener” fracking fluid, that would not reduce the water pollution risk, the authors say:

“even a benign hydraulic fracturing fluid is contaminated once it comes into contact with the Marcellus Shale.” Sodium, chloride, bromide, arsenic, barium and naturally occurring radioactive materials are the kinds of contaminants that occur in fracking well wastewater.

Read the full story here.

Yeah, I know. We’ve been listening to scientists and engineers, and impacted people, and telling you this for three years. So it’s a bit of a “duh, really? High-volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling actually poses a risk to water?” But, because of the industry’s constant churning and frothing of denial, it’s super useful to have a few more risk analysts chime in. Please read, cite, and use the full study.


One Comment
  1. Diana Luks permalink
    August 10, 2012 7:24 am

    This is a black mark on the History of our vast and beautiful country . Polluted water supplies are killing our population already. Soon there will be NO turning back. We must All make this a MOST important issue moving forward. It affects EVERYTHING we do along with the air we breathe. Health transcends wealth for all our lands and our people. DFL

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