Pennsylvania Allows Disposal of Toxic ‘Fracking’ Waste into Drinking Water Supply
Last month, we brought you the shocking story of how natural gas drilling was poisoning our nation’s drinking water on a monumental scale. Now it has emerged that state regulators in Pennsylvania are allowing millions of barrels of toxic, cancer-causing waste to be dumped directly into waterways that are the source of drinking water for millions of people.
Wastewater from the natural gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is only partially treated before being poured into streams, creeks and rivers. Pennsylvania is the only state that allows fracking waste to be disposed of in such a manner and there is great concern that the environment and people’s health are being adversely affected.
Fracking consists of injecting millions of gallons of high-pressure water, highly toxic chemicals and sand thousands of feet below the surface of the earth in order to break through layers of rock and release natural gas trapped inside. Gas rising to the surface also contains poisonous wastewater that is then sent to treatment plants where it is partially cleansed before being dumped into waterways. At least 3,600,000 barrels of waste were sent for processing and dumping in Pennsylvania between June 2009 and June 2010.
Fracking wastewater contains cancer-causing chemicals as well as barium, which causes high blood pressure, and radium, which is radioactive. Drinking water downstream from wastewater treatment plants also has very elevated levels of carcinogenic chemicals known as trihalomethanes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that in addition to cancer, trihalomethanes can also cause liver, kidney and central nervous system problems if ingested over a long period of time.
Despite these alarming facts, the natural gas and water treatment industries maintain that the water is safe to drink.
“In some respects, it’s better than what’s already in the water,” asserted Al Lander, president of Tunnelton Liquids, a treatment plant that dumps wastewater into the Conemaugh River.
But the corporations that are fouling Pennsylvania’s waterways and poisoning its people are known liars. Over the last two years, Cabot Oil & Gas dumped over 44,000 barrels of toxic waste into a creek that provides drinking water to 17 municipalities and over 300,000 people, but the company lied to residents and told them no gas waste was being dumped.
Tagged Cabot Oil and Gas, carcinogens, Conemaugh River, drinking water, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, fracking, fracking waste dumped in waterways, hydraulic fracturing, natural gas, natural gas drilling, Pennsylvania, treatment plant, trihalomethanes, Tunnelton Liquids