Wastewater from offshore drilling is being dumped into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, and it’s apparently legal.
Oil rig operators have federal permits to dump 9 billion gallons of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, waste into the ocean each year – enough to fill more than 100 football stadiums.
Federal regulators signed off on minor revisions to permits that allowed the oil company DCOR to begin fracking off the coast without completing any environmental reviews, according to a TruthOut report.
At least 12 rigs off the California coast inject potentially dangerous chemical into undersea rock formations to break them up and more easily extract crude oil, reported KCET-TV.
About half of the fluid pumped into those wells during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is pumped back out again as wastewater.
At least half of the state’s offshore rigs pump some of that water into the Santa Barbara Channel, according to the public TV station.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition Wednesday asking the Environmental Protection Agency to rewrite those federal permits to put an end to the practice and to develop national guidelines for disposal of offshore fracking wastewater.
“It’s disgusting that oil companies dump wastewater into California’s ocean,” said Miyoko Sakashita, CBD oceans director, in a press release. “You can see the rigs from shore, but the contaminated waters are hidden from view. Our goal is to make sure toxic fracking chemicals don’t poison wildlife or end up in the food chain.”
The fracking wastewater contains toxic substances such as methanol, benzene, naphthalene, and trimethylbenzene, as well as lead and arsenic that comes from deep inside the undersea rock formations.
Those toxins pose a threat to wildlife and anyone who lives near the ocean or eats fish from it.
“It came as a complete surprise to learn that oil companies are fracking in waters off the coast where I let my kids swim and play,” Sakashita continued. “The toxic chemicals used for offshore fracking don’t belong in the ocean, and the best way to protect our coast is to ban fracking altogether.”
[Image via Wikipedia Commons]