Risks of Shale Fracking in West Virgina like New York

by Duane Nichols on January 12, 2015

HALT! Fracking is Too Risky

Risks of shale oil drilling apply in West Virginia, too

Op-Ed by Barbara Daniels, Morgantown Dominion Post, Page 2-D, January 11, 2015

On December 17th, joining New Jersey, Quebec, the Delaware River Basin and several nations, and due to much hard evidence presented by the public, New York state switched from a six-year moratorium on hydrofracturing (fracking) to a complete ban.

One of the documents most responsible for this historic action is the Grass Roots Environmental Education Summary Report on Health Risks From Proposed Hydrofracturing in New York state.

With the caveat that there is far more evidence, the report lists 26 of what it conservatively terms “risks.”  A like-mined petition to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sums them up: “New data … associated with frack operations expose … intractable, irreversible problems” that even “th best imaginable regulatory frameworks” cannot protect against.

As fracking is little different in West Virginia, these risks might apply here as well.

Foremost is the enormous quantity of chemical-laden, radioactive, frack-brine in constant need of disposal.  If discharged from sewage plants, it contaminates rivers and streams.  In its most common use as a de-icer on public roads, these contaminants will also be carried into water supplies.  The radioactivity, mainly from radium 226, is soluble in water; but, as dust, can lodge in carpets, upholstery – and lungs.  Radium is colorless, odorless and tasteless.  Even in low doses, once ingested by breathing or drinking, it causes anemia, cataracts, lung and bone cancer, and death.

Secondly, New York state regulators reported that Marcellus-produced gas contains radon at average levels of eight times the allowable limits.  This radioactive gas is liberated whenever the fuel leaks or is burned, as in flares, power plants and homes.

Additionally listed were:

#3. Air pollution from the myriad on-site diesel engines plus the thousand or so truck trips, per well, carrying water and machinery through rural areas.  Diesel exhaust produces ground-level ozone (smog) and particulates.  These pollutants cause asthma in children and lung cancer in adults, and are linked to bladder and breast cancer, stroke, heart attack, cognitive decline and premature death.

#4. Flaring – which releases gasoline-type chemicals, such as benzene and xylene, plus other poisons.  Though the EPA ban on flaring starts in 2015, there are loopholes.

#5. The radiological contamination of ground water that will persist for thousands of years from landfilled frack drill cuttings and sludge.

#6. The certainty of polluted aquifers as frack waste and methane, coming from deteriorating cement well casings, follow old gas wells and fissures into water.

#7. Chemical combinations under heat and pressure with unknown effects.  For instance, 4-NQO, a carcinogenic chemical, even in parts per trillion, and not found in nature, is thought to be so created.  It has been recorded in toxic amounts in 24 out of 24 randomly chosen frack waste samples from Pennsylvania and West Virginia wells.

#8. The gas industry’s ability to fund colleges and research so as to generate false findings that cover up hazards.  These misleading reports create a state of leniency wherein existing rules are ignored and new ones stifled.

The West Virginia Mountain Party is working for a moratorium on mountaintop removal and fracking.

Note:  Barbara Daniels is a writer for the West Virginia Mountain Party, who lives in Richwood, WV.

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