We’ve all heard the refrain of “fracking doesn’t contaminate water”. We’ve heard it from the Natural Gas Industry, from their front groups, from politicians, from the government environmental departments and their supporters.
This is true, because fracking is just one small part of the entire process of natural gas drilling. The “frack” is the moment of explosion where the shale is shattered, and in that moment of explosion there is no contamination.
Contamination may occur at other points of the entire process of natural gas drilling.
It may be from failed well casings. Mark Boling, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Southwestern Energy Co, Stated he has examined several incidents in Colorado and Pennsylvania where gas drilling appears to have caused gas to get into drinking water. “Every one we identified was caused by a failure of the integrity of the well, and almost always it was the cement job.”
March 2013 Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology said “Environmental contamination can result from a multitude of activities that are part of the oil and gas exploration and production process.”
“While the study found no direct link between water contamination and fracking itself, it did cite surface spills of fracturing chemicals as a risk to groundwater. It also found blowouts underground during fracking operations have been under-reported.” Per Reading Beyond the Headlines: Fracking and Water Contamination | February 17, 2012 | By Mose Buchele | StateImpact.npr.org
Many reports of groundwater contamination occur in conventional oil and gas operations (e.g. failure of well-bore casing and cementing) and are not unique to hydraulic fracturing. Surface spills of fracturing fluids appear to pose greater risks to groundwater than hydraulic fracturing itself. Blowouts – uncontrolled fluid releases during construction and operation – are a rare occurrence, but subsurface blowouts appear to be under-reported.
The Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS), through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), has obtained determination letters from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Each and everyone of them states very clearly:
DCS has over 30 of these letters available for you to read, and from their website, it sounds like they will have even more available soon. Dates on the letters range from as far back as 2009 to May of this year. The determination letters are from Orwell, Tuscarora, Alba Boro, Monroe, Wilmont, Terry, Granville, Asylum, Leroy, Smithfield, Troy, West Burlington, and Windham.