Fracking pollutes, EPA discovers

An announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency could mortally wound the drilling practice known as ‘fracking.”

The EPA says it has proven that groundwater in Wyoming was polluted with chemicals injected into the ground to release oil and gas.

The draft report counters the claims by the mining industry that fracking does not pollute groundwater, the CBC reported today:


As part of the investigation, the EPA drilled two deep monitoring wells in the local aquifer and found synthetic chemicals, like glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids. It also found benzene concentrations well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards and high methane levels in the deep wells.

The EPA also sampled drinking water from area wells and found chemicals consistent with migrations from areas of gas production in the drinking water, but stll below established health and safety levels. Nevertheless, health officials advised residents not to drink their water or use it for cooking.

“Given the area’s complex geology and the proximity of drinking water wells to ground water contamination, EPA is concerned about the movement of contaminants within the aquifer and the safety of drinking water wells over time,” said the draft report on the investigation released on Thursday.

This, of course, will not surprise groups in North Dakota (and elsewhere), who have battled frac operations…

In Texas, some well owners e don’t need the EPA to tell them what they already know. They say when a frac mining operation split into a gas deposit, their water became flammable.

But the process also has increased domestic oil production and provided thousands of jobs, especially in North Dakota. In Duluth last week, a local newspaper heralded the process as a boost to the shipping industry.

And there’s the battle. In one corner: damage to water and the environment. In the other corner: jobs.