A little-known US government database shows conclusively that fracking forces gas and chemicals into sources of groundwater.
This directly contradicts senior British ministers, US government officials and the fracking industry who have repeatedly denied links between fracking and contaminated water supplies. British Minister Micheal Fallon told BBC Radio’s World at One today: “There is no evidence of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing anywhere in the world.”
This is simply untrue, as the database from the Pennyslyvania (PA) Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shows. This data set shows groundwater contamination at many fracking sites in PA, including 19 where the operator failed to “prevent gas and other fluids from lower formations from entering fresh groundwater”.
This includes two leaks in the contested town of Dimock where, lobbyists and industry claim, fracking has had no impact whatsoever (search for the above quote in Frack Off’s sorted version of the database).
The list goes on. In Tioga County, Pennsylvania the DEP cited Talisman Energy for “failure to prevent migration of gas or other fluids into sources of fresh groundwater”. (see inspection ID 2104551 in the database – column B). Talisman has broken regulations 7 times at this well and has been fined $328,000 for it’s PA operations.
In nearby Bradford County the same company has twice “(failed) to prevent the migration of gas or other fluids into sources of fresh groundwater” (see inspection IDs 2099105 & 2081886 in the database).
Also in Bradford County EOG Resources Inc has been fined at 3 wells for “failure to prevent migration of gas into fresh groundwater” (see inspection IDs 2180070, 2180078 and 2180061). The company has been fined $386,000 for DEP violations since 2010.
And again in Tioga we find drillers Swepi LP cited for “failure to prevent migration of gas or other fluids into sources of fresh groundwater” (inspection ID 2039088)
A further 46 PA wells were cited for “improper casing to protect fresh groundwater” and another 11 were cited for “failure to case and cement to prevent migrations into fresh groundwater” – including four more at Dimock.
This sorry list does not include DEP citations for other problems with wells, including ten instances of when a well has shown pressure problems (implying a leak within the central borehole), and many others.
British politicians and their apologists like to claim there is no evidence fracking pollutes groundwater. The DEP data above shows quite the reverse. Indeed, fracker Cuadrilla’s own PR team admit that well leaks are a considerable problem. This is an underlying truth of the fracking debate, and one which is dangerous for the oil and gas industry to admit: to do so undermines the credibility of the entire industry, not just those involved in hydraulic fracturing.
The simple fact is that the oil and gas industry is unable to build wells that don’t leak, which is why regulation can never be a solution. This is just as applicable to the fracking industry, whatever your local politician says.
Notes on the data set
The complete DEP data set is available here. It’s advisable to download it as a spreadsheet and search using the CTRL ‘f’ function – there’s a stupendous amount of citations not mentioned here
The statistics above are from a sorted version of this complete DEP database, from 2010 to the present day, and excludes data from conventional wells. You can see this version of the data here.