GREEN PIECE: Don’t get fracked

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First Posted: 3/4/2014

For years, activists have warned that hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, can have very serious consequences on the environment. From poisoned water to disrupted communities, fracking is a serious issue that should concern everyone.

Fracking has become quite popular in the state of Pennsylvania over the last few years and is about to become a threat to Luzerne County. Recently, an application for a permit for a Frack Water Treatment Plant has been submitted to the county. The facility will store wastewater used in natural gas drilling operations. The area they are looking to use is in Lake Township, which could put Harveys Lake, Harveys Creek, and several other important streams at risk.

The process of fracking requires drilling and then injecting toxic fluid into the ground at high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas. Over 600 different kinds of chemicals are used in the fluid used to crack the shale rocks. Because of all the chemicals used, water near fracking sites is known to contain all sorts of toxic materials, making it a huge problem for residents near drilling areas.

Water becomes contaminated when methane gas and other toxic chemicals leak out and pollute groundwater. Studies show that levels of methane are 17 times higher in drinking water wells that are near fracking sites than in normal wells. Sadly, these contaminated wells are still used for drinking water. Hundreds of cases have been documented where water contamination has been found next to fracking areas. Not only are researchers finding that water is being contaminated, there have also been cases of respiratory and neurological damage due to ingesting contaminated water.

Air pollution from fracking is also a major concern. About 30 to 50 percent of fracking fluid used is recovered, but the rest of the toxic fluid is left in the ground and is not biodegradable. The waste fluid recovered is left in open-air pits to evaporate into the atmosphere, creating contaminated air and even acid rain. Air pollutants from fracking have been linked to asthma, cancer, and other serious health effects.

The environment is not the only thing that suffers from fracking. Communities near fracking sites often become disrupted from all of the noise pollution. Each gas well on average requires 400 tanker trucks to carry water and supplies to and from the site. That’s a lot of truck traffic to deal with every day. Fracking is a 24-hour-a-day operation that can be quite loud with all of the large equipment used to drill. Noise from fracking is not just a nuisance; it often creates unlivable situations for residents near the drilling area.

As of right now, Luzerne County has no active gas wells, but the gas industry is only looking to expand natural gas production, so it’s only a matter of time before they start moving into our county. Unfortunately, parts of Pennsylvania are home to the Marcellus Shale, one of the nation’s most profitable natural gas resources, so the Keystone State will not escape fracking any time soon.

We don’t want our children and grandchildren to have to worry about noise, water, and air pollution. Fracking is a serious issue. For information on how to keep you and your family safe from drilling, visit “Don’t Get Fracked” on the website of the Natural Resources Defense Council,