Every once in a while we feel the need to weigh in on events surrounding the practice of hydraulic fracturing (the practice of ‘blowing up’ deep underground formations of bedrock using pressurized liquids and capturing liberated natural gas)… and today we would like to point out a few things that we found interesting in a recent article that we read:
- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP or DEP) declared that just under 80% of the nearly 1,000 complaints/allegations it handled regarding well water contamination had insubstantial evidence tying the contamination to drilling or possibly resulted from some other source of contaminants.
- PADEP reported that just under 20% of investigations resulted in some sort of water service disruption that required the water source to get replaced at the expense of a gas drilling company.
- PADEP appears to have issued letters confirming cases of water quality contamination and obligations to correct or replace damaged water sources… but does not actively keep track of how many such letters actually went out.
- PADEP may have ‘lumped together’ cases where multiple households became affected by the same water quality incident in an effort to make the numbers reported look more appealing.
- Private settlement agreements made between drilling companies and affected land owners do not show up in PADEP reporting.
- It came to light recently that even though laboratories conducted a rather inclusive battery of testing on water samples taken from private wells, the owners of those wells received documents containing only results for contaminants that PADEP considered relevant to the process of determining whether or not hydraulic fracturing had affected water quality.
- In some cases post-drilling sampling of suspected contamination zones took place at lower depths where statistics indicated a lower likelihood of finding evidence of contamination by hydraulic fracturing activity.
- Gas drillers have agreed to pay for new drinking water wells in certain instances but did not have to publicly acknowledge that their hydraulic fracturing activity resulted in the contamination of those wells.
You have just read a few of the ‘highlights’ from an article that, in our opinion, gives a great deal of credibility to the notion that before any new fracking takes place, we need to get a few things in place: 1) Standardized and identical water testing procedures in place for pre-drilling and post-drilling sampling; 2) Better and more comprehensive system of record keeping for things like notifications of possible contamination; 3) Easier means of access for the public to any and all information pertaining to data collected during pre-drilling and post-drilling sampling so outside, third party analysts can put together their own pictures of what is really happening in regions where hydraulic fracturing takes place.
The song lyrics ‘We Have Only Just Begun’ ring through the back our minds as we look forward to the potential environmental pitfalls that may lay in store for the areas where hydraulic fracturing occurred in the absence of adequate baseline readings and, from the looks of things, accidental (or intentional) inept follow-up sampling of water from private wells.
If you cannot trust the government…
… then turn to accredited third party water testing laboratories that have nothing to gain by telling anything other than the truth. As far as WHAT to test for, well, we suggest testing for as many potential contaminants as possible BEFORE allowing gas & oil companies access to your lands.
At this time the Water Test Kit Store carries mail-in water testing packages from National Testing Laboratories, an accredited water testing laboratory that provides test results from its certified water testing facilities within 10 to 14 business days of their receiving a sample.
And in conclusion…
We do not KNOW the true consequences of our past actions, so can we please slow down and figure out how best to not make them worse?