Fracking contaminated drinking water

Scientific American has an article that explains that a former EPA scientist has found contaminants in drinking water that came from fracking. Drinking water from Pavillion WY smells and tastes bad. There are many natural gas wells in the area, many shallow wells under 2000 feet deep. Chemicals used in fracking have been found in well water.

Many labs analyzing well water originally didn’t find fracking chemicals. But it’s not that simple.

“Conducting a groundwater investigation related to fracking is extremely complicated,” DiGiulio said. “It is difficult because a lot of the compounds used for hydraulic fracturing are not commonly analyzed for in commercial labs.”

More recent test have found methanol, diesel compounds, and other fracking chemicals in wells. Many of these chemicals are unstudied, and we don’t know what the safe levels are for them.

Unsurprisingly, industry groups disagree with the findings. More studies need to be done to find how fracking can be done such that it won’t contaminate well water.

Fracking releasing radium into wastewater

Fracking seems to be causing problems for wastewater treatment plants. These plants were built before fracking was invented, and they aren’t able to handle the wastewater generated by fracking. Radium, a very radioactive element, has been found downstream of these treatment plants, is appearing in high enough levels to cause places to be deemed a radioactive waste site.

The radium is naturally found in the layer of shale that has natural gas, the target for fracking. But when the shale is fractured, the radium is released into the wastewater. This wastewater goes to the water treatment plants, but they aren’t setup to handle this level of radioactivity. The radioactive water that was studied is released into streams, and then the Allegheny River, a water source for Pittsburg, PA.