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Is there Link Between Fracking and Ground Water Contamination?


Residents who live near hydraulic fracturing wells have been complaining for years about the bad taste and terrible smell of the drinking water from their wells. Jesse Eakin and his wife Shirley have been dealing with well water that is too contaminated to drink. In a story on the Center for Public Integrity blog, the Eakins describe how they have been trying to get help from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about the fact that their contaminated water that carries sand that plugs up their plumbing. They have been forced to purchase bottled water for drinking and cooking, and they had to begin paying for deliveries of city water. In Pavillion, WY, there are dangerous levels of contaminants in the underground water supply that is used by the town’s 230 residents. In Palo Pinto County, Texas, ground water tests have shown high levels of contaminants from nearby fracking operations. Here at home in Oklahoma, we have seen the effects of fracking firsthand: in the increased number of earthquakes and the damage caused by them.

Hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is the practice of injecting water and chemicals at high pressure into a gas or oil well which fractures the rock and stimulates oil and gas production.

The EPA launched a study to determine if drinking water in Wyoming was being contaminated by hydraulic fracturing operations, however in 2013 they abandoned the study, transferred it to state regulators and never published a final report. Dominic DiGiulio was the lead scientist for the EPA study, but is now a research scientist at Stanford University. DiGiulio published a peer-reviewed study in Environmental Science and Technology that suggests a link between fracking operations and contaminated ground water. In an article in Scientific American, DiGiulio said, “We showed that groundwater contamination occurred as a result of hydraulic fracturing.”

As you might guess, this is quite a controversial issue with oil and gas companies claiming that their fracking practices do not cause any contamination, while this new study claims that indeed they do. Further research must be done as people’s health is being compromised at the mercy of energy production.

According to the NRDC, scientists and environmentalists are increasingly concerned about ground water and surface water contamination that may be associated directly or indirectly with fracking.

The NRDC has offered best practices for avoiding drinking water contamination related to hydraulic fracturing that includes detailed site planning, proper well construction, robust operating & monitoring requirements and most importantly, proper water use, wastewater handling and salt water disposal.

Residents who have wells that are being affected by ground water contamination from fracking operations have options for the future. We invite you to contact the McAlester oil field injury attorneys at Stipe Law firm at (918) 505-7741. We protect the rights of those affected by oil and gas exploration as well as oil and gas workers throughout Oklahoma. You can trust us to protect you, too.