If someone told you it was OK to just flush your toilet into your basement, would you? Pumping fracking water into the earth is even worse. Sewage breaks down over time. The chemicals and sand in fracking wastewater will be in the fracking injection wells forever. The requirements for fresh water to do the initial fracking are huge, and jeopardize farming and local supplies for human consumption.
The Columbus Dispatch had a front page article on November 27, 2012 entitled “Is there enough water for the ‘fracking’ boom?” According to the article, it takes 5 million gallons for each well to break open the earth’s structure to release the natural gas and oil. In Carroll County OH, there are now permits for 161 wells. That is 805 million gallons of water that is required to do the fracking process for this one county.
Not only does fracking consume a huge amount of water to breakdown the shale rock formations, the water is then being pumped back into the earth in injection wells designated for “storing” the fracking wastewater. Eventually this water is going to come into contact with the aquifers that are used for home and city water supplies. When it does, the waters will mix and that aquifer will be polluted forever. This is what happened in Eastern Europe under the Communist regimes when they dumped chemicals back into the earth; the water is forever undrinkable.
Ohio is becoming the designated cesspool for Pennsylvania and New York fracking operations, with trucks bringing in the fracking wastewater for pumping into wells in the counties of Eastern and Southeastern Ohio. How did this area get to be the dump of choice for everyone? The economies in these counties are hurting, and there is quick money to be made if the land owners put their interests ahead of those of future generations.
The gas and oil companies are claiming that they have “safe and proven” technology to do the fracking without polluting the aquifers. If we learned anything from the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we know that there will be cracks in the casings for both the fracking water and the fracking wastewater. We have not been told what chemicals are in the fracking water, but it is doubtful that any of the company engineers will volunteer to drink it.
When the gas and oil have been extracted by the fracking process, the gas and oil companies will take their profits and the people will be left with less surface water and unsecure underground water supplies. The water in the aquifers and surface streams and lakes will be depleted, and the injection wells for the fracking wastewater will be a series of time bombs waiting for the wastewater to percolate into the fresh water supplies.
These profits from fracking are going to be huge. There is a simple answer to reducing fracking water consumption and making the disposal of the fracking wastewater safe. The companies must spend the money to recycle water for the fracking process, and clean up the fracking wastewater so that it can be safely disposed.
We cannot depend upon these companies to operate for our long term benefit. They are working to maximize their profits now. There needs to be government legislation, preferably at the national level, that requires fracking operations to reprocess the water used for the initial fracking and then for cleaning up the fracking wastewater before disposal. If they are required to do this, the amount of water required for fracking will be reduced substantially, and the disposal problem can be minimized by requiring treatment to federal EPA standards for water discharged into rivers.
Requiring the reuse of fracking water and the treatment of fracking wastewater to current standards will cost money. That is a reasonable cost considering the alternatives. There will be less profit, but the operating costs for obtaining the fracking water and then hauling and disposing of the wastewater will also be reduced.
This recycling and treatment of fracking water and fracking wastewater is not a technological issue. The companies know the composition of the fracking water, and they can do the initial cleanup that will allow reuse of the water for the next wells. The fracking wastewater can be cleaned up to remove chemicals and other contaminants before disposal. They must make a commitment to maintain the purity of current and future water supplies.
This is a serious issue. Send an e-mail or write your representatives at the state and federal level to tell them that water safety must not be sacrificed for fracking profits. We need legislation immediately to require recycling fracking water and treatment of fracking wastewater to current federal EPA standards. There needs to be immediate legislation to establish liability against hidden pollution from the injection wells, and to reduce the threat to aquifers, lakes and streams from overuse of fresh water by the fracking companies.
These are some of the government representatives that you can contact to request action to require recycling of fracking water and treatment to federal EPA standards for fracking wastewater.
Senator Sherrod Brown is at 713 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510. Senator Brown’s phone is (202) 224-2315 and his website is www.brown.senate.gov/contact.
Senator Rob Portman, 338 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510. Senator Portman’s phone is (202) 224-2315 and his website is www.portman.senate.gov/
Congressman Steve Stivers is at 202-225-2015 and his address is at 1007 LHOB, Washington, DC 20510 or on the web at http://stivers.house.gov/.
Congressman Pat Tiberi is at 202-225-5355 and his address is at 106 CHOB, Washington, DC 20510 or on the web at http://tiberi.house.gov/.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich is at 202-225-5871 and his address is at 2445 RHOB, Washington, DC 20510 or on the web at http://kucinich.house.gov/
If your congressman isn’t listed, use this website and search by name. You can find your representative at http://www.house.gov/representatives/
It is critical to get the regulations in place now to require recycling of fracking water and treatment for fracking wastewater. If we don’t act now, there will be no clean water to drink in the future.
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