Oil and Water

Don’t mix. Don’t mix. Don’t mix.

Oil and gas exploration in Utah, on Bureau of Land Management land.

Oil and gas exploration in Utah, on Bureau of Land Management land.

This report from a Congressional Committee in 2011 on chemicals used in fracking ought to give anyone pause. I wrote about the threats to water posed by oil drilling in my novel Junction, Utah, because I’d read reports by farmers on the contamination they’d observed to their farm ponds and springs when petroleum companies were allowed to lease and explore on their land. Fracking ups the ante on the risks of chemical pollution, but even without the injection of these chemicals, under- and aboveground water resources are threatened when companies act too quickly and haphazardly. Water is the stuff of life, and oil must be sought with the utmost care.

“In 2011, a congressional committee reported that between 2005 and 2009, 14 oil and gas companies injected 780 million gallons of fracking chemicals and substances into wells. The committee reported that these companies used hydraulic fracturing products containing 29 chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens and are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health or listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.13 Ben- zene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene appeared in 60 of the hydraulic fracturing products used between 2005 and 2009.14 Each is a regulated contaminant under the Safe Drinking Water Act and a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act. An environmental advocacy group claims to have conducted a review of oil and gas service company chemical disclosure records and has reported that these fluids contained as much as 93 times more benzene than diesel contains.

15 Scientists at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange found that 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer; 37 percent could disrupt the endocrine system; 40 to 50 percent could affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems; and more than 75 percent could affect the sensory organs and respiratory system, likely causing problems such as skin and eye irritation and flu-like symptoms.”



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