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New Study Misses Fracking Drilling's Environmental and Health Impacts

Sep 5, 2013

A new study funded by the natural gas and oil industries has presented some positive reviews on the impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling, though it largely ignores the environmental and health hazards the drilling is causing nationwide.

According to a Bloomberg report this week, the research firm of IHS in Colorado has found that fracking drilling for natural gas and oil in the U.S. has been a “boom” to economies and has allegedly put more money in people’s pockets.

Still, the report is scant on information related to the environmental and public health impacts of fracking drilling.

We’ve been reporting on those details for several years, since fracking drilling became widespread, mostly in the Mid Atlantic region and the massive Marcellus shale formation. Thousands of fracking wells have been opened in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio and since then — while some economic results have been noted — many people living closest to the wells have criticized the activity on several fronts, and numerous studies have been published that detail how fracking drilling affects the environment.

Based on our previous reports, people living within a mile of an active fracking well are more likely to be impacted by the adverse effects of drilling. Some residents in northeastern Pennsylvania say that fracking drilling has contaminated their private drinking water wells with methane gas and other toxins, including heavy metals, and rendered their water poisoned.

Neighbors of fracking wells also say that the drilling activity has contaminated the air surrounding the wells and some have complained that skin irritations and breathing troubles are to blame on fracking drilling.

Studies have also been published that criticize the safety and efficiency of the fracking process overall. You’ll recall from our previous reports that fracking is conducted by introducing a drill through an underground well shaft that extends to a bed of shale several miles below the surface. Along with the drill, hundreds of thousands of gallons of fresh water, sand, and mix of several hundred chemicals are rushed to the rock, which is blasted apart and methane gas is released.

Critics of the process say that poorly constructed wells allow the drilling fluids to escape into and contaminate groundwater that eventually reaches private water wells. Also, the fracking process has been criticized for putting a strain on natural resources, like fresh water.

Fracking has recently been linked to earthquake activity, too. Waste water that proves to be too radioactive and contaminated for disposal at traditional landfills is being injected into underground wells for disposal. Because of the makeup of this waste water, it is creating new faults underground and causing earthquakes.

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