EPA: Fracking chemicals likely tainted Wyoming drinking water

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, December 9, 2011 13:33 EDT
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Two children refresh themselves at a water fountain. Photo: Flickr user aka Kath.
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Chemicals used in a controversial method of natural gas extraction known as hydrolic fracturing, or “fracking,” have likely tainted well water used for drinking supplies in Wyoming, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Thursday.

The agency said Thursday night that it discovered high levels of benzene in well water near Pavillion, Wyoming, most likely from the secret cocktail of chemicals that are injected underground to crack shale rock, which then releases natural gas deposits.

The water tested had a pH level higher than most bleach cleaning products, but Gov. Matt Mead (R) said he felt like more testing was needed before action would be taken to protect water supplies.

CBS News noted Friday morning that about 67 percent of Wyoming’s tax revenues come from energy industry sources, including companies involved in fracking.

The energy industry defends fracking as a safe method of natural gas extraction, but the U.S. Geological Survey and others in the energy industry believe that fracking, or deep underground liquid injection similar to fracking, can cause earthquakes. Others near fracking wells have detected high levels of methane in their water supplies, including several cases where water was so volatile it could be set on fire.

The EPA said it was conducting a full review of fracking and the risk to drinking water supplies, but the report was not expected until sometime next year.

This video is from CBS News, broadcast Dec. 9, 2011.

Photo: Flickr user aka Kath.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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