Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil may be one of the most well-documented horrors to disgrace the planet. Despite only being practiced for roughly a decade, the evidence is piling up that fracking utilizes cancer-causing chemicals, causes earthquakes, and pollutes the air with hydrocarbons such as benzene.
Government regulatory agencies have made half-hearted attempts to suggest that they actually will halt the practice, but so far the oil and gas industries have largely been left alone, even as the EPA admits that fracking causes groundwater pollution. In fact, the USDA dropped their plan to review the environmental impact of fracking for land owners who host fracking stations. Investigative reporter, Greg Palast, discusses in the video below the wide-ranging impact of this decision, as well as alluding specifically to the potential consequence to aquifers. For instance, a resident in Pennsylvania demonstrates in the video how his tap water is now flammable – so it appears that contaminated aquifers are already a reality.
In addition to the many documented risks, a recent study further backs up the alert raised by Palast and other investigative researchers and activists: aquifers — the water source itself — are under attack.
A recent study published in the journal Ground Water focused on the underground geology surrounding 5,000 wells that have been drilled in the area of Marcellus Shale. These wells are just a few among the nearly 500,000 across the country.
Researchers have discovered a troubling issue: the very foundation upon which the safety of fracking rests, at least as cited by the industry, might be shaky at best:
Scientists have theorized that impermeable layers of rock would keep the fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chemicals, safely locked nearly a mile below water supplies.
But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by the effects of fracking itself, could allow chemicals to reach the surface in as little as ‘just a few years.’
It very well could be the seepage into waterways from structural damage to wells and other aquifers that is leading to the massive increase in thyroid cancer and other ailments.
Researcher Rady Ananda likens the fracking process to a dirty bomb:
Radiation isn’t released into the environment only via nuclear plants and bombs. Geologist Tracy Bank found that fracking mobilizes rock-bound uranium, posing a further radiation risk to our groundwater. She presented her findings at the American Geological Society meeting in Denver last November. (Source)
Tracy Bank points to 65 hazardous chemicals that are used in fracking operations, and cites former industry insider, James Northrup, to illustrate just how serious the threat is, especially in light of this new study which suggests that the previously thought “impermeable” layer of rock is actually porous:
The fracking fluid contains chemicals that would be illegal to use in warfare under the rules of the Geneva Convention.
It seems that with each new discovery of the impact of hydraulic fracturing, we are beginning to see new depths of the troubles we face in finding and keeping usable water.