In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying. While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or “fracking”) operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.
Anti-fracking forces in New York suffered a setback this week when a federal judge threw out their lawsuit asking for a full environmental review of possible damages from natural gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin, a prelude to a potential ban of drilling in the region.
The activists fear that natural gas “fracking” would jeopardize water supplies for the 15 million, including some residents of New York City, who depend on water originating in the Delaware River Basin. Fracking involves deep wells into shale deposits which are blasted open by injecting a water-chemical mix at high pressures. The fissures in the underground rock then release natural gas deposits.
Wastewater disposal is greatest threat to drinking water from gas fracking operations, say researchers
A new study has found that fracking for natural gas poses the greatest threat to waterways and drinking water via approved, regular disposal of “fracking water” at municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities.
This type of disposal, used in the Marcellus Shale region in the Northeast U.S., is failing to adequately cleanse the wastewater produced by gas wells, according to the study. The result is that ostensibly “treated” water is being discharged into streams and waterways still contaminated with chemicals and minerals that accumulate during the fracking process.
New research has concluded that salty, mineral-rich fluids deep beneath Pennsylvania’s natural gas fields are likely seeping upward thousands of feet into drinking water supplies.
Though the fluids were natural and not the byproduct of drilling or hydraulic fracturing, the finding further stokes the red-hot controversy over fracking in the Marcellus Shale, suggesting that drilling waste and chemicals could migrate in ways previously thought to be impossible.
Natural gas is portrayed as the “bridge fuel” that will save the US from uneven electricity supply and prices as we transition off coal and oil on our way toward using renewable biofuels, solar and wind power.