Only recently have experts begun to truly sound the alarm on fracking as the culprit responsible for an earthquake epidemic in areas that used to be rock solid. And now, the EPA has finally issued a report to declare that fracking contaminates drinking water during every stage of the process.
This announcement seems like a no-brainer, really, given that fracking’s extraction process creates toxic wastewater, which is disposed of through a violent injection process deep into the earth. The process is supposed to shove the wastewater far below aquifers that contain drinking water, but come on. And given that rivers near fracking sites are known to go up in flames, it’s safe to assume that the process is not foolproof.
The EPA report has concluded that contamination occurs at all stages of the fracking process. Some of the effects were mild or temporary, but other conditions create severe impacts, including the following:
While some affects were temporary or not severe, the agency said it identified a handful of conditions under which fracking activities can have more frequent or severe impacts. They include:
Withdrawing fracking water in places with limited or declining groundwater availability.
Spilling fracking fluids, chemicals or the contaminated water that flows back to the surface (produced water), resulting in large volumes of chemicals reaching groundwater resources.
Injecting fracking fluids into poorly constructed wells, so that gases or liquids affect the groundwater.
Injecting fracking fluids directly into groundwater resources.
Sending contaminated fracking wastewater back into surface water resources.
Disposing of or storing fracking wastewater in unlined pits so that the toxic water contaminates groundwater.
The New York Times points out that the EPA is completely marching to a different beat than it did last year, when the agency’s preliminary fracking report stated that there was “no evidence” that fracking contaminates drinking water. But before everyone feels super positive about this final report, the EPA states that it isn’t the definitive word on how fracking gets all up in your drinking water.
Also not too comforting — the Trump pick for EPA head (Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt) has a reputation for fighting EPA regulations and recommendations at every opportunity. So, that’ll be fun.