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EPA Study Confirms Fracking's Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hesitated to confirm that fracking could negatively impact drinking water, the unconventional gas drilling industry promoted the draft version of a report that has just been finalized.

The final version of the five-year EPA Study of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources seems to have shed the overshadowing of the industry and includes more than 900 pages of known dangers posed to drinking water from fracking activities and areas in need of further research.

This report substantiates some of the concern expressed by the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s resolution calling for a moratorium on new drilling, a statewide health impact assessment and further research.

While Scott H. Segal, a fossil fuel lobbyist may still claim that, “…contamination attributable to shale development is neither widespread nor systemic,” the final EPA report systematically examines each phase of fracking activities and, “identifies certain conditions under which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities can be more frequent or severe:

  • Water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing in times or areas of low water availability, particularly in areas with limited or declining groundwater resources;

  • Spills during the handling of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals or produced water that result in large volumes or high concentrations of chemicals reaching groundwater resources;

  • Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into wells with inadequate mechanical integrity, allowing gases or liquids to move to groundwater resources;

  • Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources;

  • Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water; and

  • Disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in unlined pits resulting in contamination of groundwater resources.”[1]

Clearing the industry’s profit-driven influence on this urgent matter allows the EPA findings to be supported by much-needed further research.


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