You're doing it wrong, say fracking industry representatives.
You’re doing it wrong, say fracking industry representatives.

Bradford County, PAResearchers using a sensitive chemical analysis say they have found evidence of fracking fluids in well water near a shale gas drilling site in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  An industry spokeswoman said the hydraulically fractured well water is as safe as ordinary lighter fluid.

“There is no evidence that lighter fluid is dangerous if used properly,”  said Bethany Millbright, an energy spokeswoman with Energy in Depth, an advocacy group for the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “It is clear to us that our valued customers are not using tap water in a safe manner.”

The fracking industry has maintained that because fracking occurs thousands of feet below drinking-water aquifers, the drilling chemicals that are injected to break up rocks and release the gas trapped there pose no risk. In other words, it’s deep. You no worry. However in this study, the researchers note that the contamination may have stemmed from a lack of integrity in the drill wells and not from the actual fracking process far below.

“The entire case is based around the detection of an exceedingly small amount of a compound that’s commonly used in hundreds of household products,” continued Ms. Millbright. “The researchers suggest the compound is also found in a specific drilling fluid, but then tell us they have no evidence that this fluid was used at the well site. And we, frankly, do not have to tell you which operations used which chemicals. Those are trade secrets.”

According to critics, the contents of so-called “fracking fluid” is confidential to only the natural gas well operators, so only they would know which wells used what and in what concentrations. And despite  denials from megalomaniacal industry assholes, researchers generally agree that these dangerous chemicals can “seep” outwards and upwards over long distances into aquifers.


Bradford County, PA's fracking operations make it look like a smallpox victim.
Bradford County, PA’s fracking operations make it look like a smallpox victim.

Victor Heilweil, a University of Utah hydro-geologist who is not a industry sycophant, reviewed the study’s findings and said it was important that “the detailed geologic fabric explaining how these contaminants can move relatively long distances from the depth to the drinking well.”

But some just prefer not to trust “experts” and make “gut”  judgements based on things they’ve seen on TV and blogs filtered through their high school-level critical thinking skills.

“It is clear to me,” said local Penn Valley well-water activist Brock Whalen, “that this is an example of the government interfering with our God-given water rights. And companies like Chesapeake Energy are doing this for a stronger, more energy-independent America. And I believe that last thing we need is have our Muslim-run Federal Government interfering with a company’s right to sour our water.”

As for the fracking industry, they’re starting a new campaign on how to use tap water appropriately.

“We heard the concerns of water users, and we’re responding,” said a stern Ms. Millbright. “Starting next month, Energy in Depth is launching a program called ‘Tapping if Right,’ which will show homes in the vicinity of well operations how to use their tap water for heating their homes, rinsing their car engines and something we’re really excited about, home dissection instructions or HDIs. With HDIs families can use tap water to preserve frogs and other creatures found in their yards. Then they can use Energy in Depth‘s instructions to dissect and study the animals. We think this is a real ‘win-win.'”

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