Gas Drillers in PA Are Getting Away With Dumping Chemicals into Drinking Water Supplies

For those who haven't been following our ongoing coverage of the controversial gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), then this news from the AP is really going to be shocking:

The natural gas boom gripping parts of the U.S. has a nasty byproduct: wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium, that most states require drillers to get rid of the stuff by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep.

Not in Pennsylvania, one of the states at the center of the gas rush.

There, the liquid that gushes from gas wells is only partially treated for substances that could be environmentally harmful, then dumped into rivers and streams from which communities get their drinking water.

New York state currently has a temporary moratorium on one type of fracking, while the environmental and human health implications are being further explored. But reports from those living in Pennsylvania near fracking areas has not been good.

The AP found more than a few reasons to be concerned by their research in PA, too. While the state seems to think they have proper safeguards in place they really can’t be sure. “Of the roughly 6 million barrels of well liquids produced in a 12-month period examined by The AP, the state couldn't account for the disposal method for 1.28 million barrels, about a fifth of the total, because of a weakness in its reporting system and incomplete filings by some energy companies,” the AP reports.

You can read more about their new report here.

AlterNet / By Tara Lohan

Posted at January 3, 2011, 1:14pm

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