Fracking Regulations and Environmental Protection are Inadequte

by Duane Nichols on March 22, 2016

State must fend for itself against fracking hazards

Letter to Editor, Morgantown Dominion Post, March 21, 2016

Studies and investigative reports indicate that horizontal hydro-fracking poses serious and unavoidable threats to our health and environment. Due largely to these findings, the process is now prohibited in New York state, Maryland, Vermont, parts of Canada and 10 nations.

One report, by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Scientists, states that the underground effects are uncontrollable because of the randomness of subterranean landscapes.

There, increased drilling can result in “pressure bulbs” that break up confined aquifers and cause earthquakes. Like lead paint, DDT and asbestos, it said, horizontal hydrofracking is too destructive to use.

The most damaging result of horizontal hydrofracking, reportedly, is air pollution; from waste pits, condensate tanks, leaks, spills, diesel engines and compressor stations.
Combined with hundreds of chemicals, heavy metals and high radioactivity in the liquid and solid frack wastes, a poisonous overload is produced known to cause health problems.

In West Virginia, state and federal laws compound the threat. Treated as hazardous in any other industry, oil and gas waste has been exempted there. No laws in West Virginia require safe handling of these extremely toxic pollutants.

The EPA’s national inventory on potentially frack-contaminated drinking water study excluded Class II injection wells, moreover. These wells are extensively used in West Virginia for disposal of out-of-state frack waste and are the most likely to pollute aquifers.

Meanwhile, although the same Marcellus shale underlies West Virginia, groups of physicians and scientists have called on President Obama, the surgeon general and the governors of Pennsylvania and Maryland to create a permanent ban on horizontal hydro-fracking in those states.

So must West Virginia become a sacrifice zone where citizens must protect themselves?

Doing just that, Fayette County last year closed the oil and gas loophole by declaring such waste hazardous, then banning it within county jurisdiction. Although one industry giant has blocked its enforcement by attempting to overturn the ordinance in court, the ban should rightfully survive litigation.

Barbara Daniels, Richwood, WV

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