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What the frack is getting into our groundwater?

April 13, 2010

Some interesting recent developments in the US on regulating hydraulic fracturing, aka “fracking.” 

For those not following it, hydraulic fracturing is the process, used in the natural gas industry, of injecting large quantities of water and chemicals into the ground in a way that fractures rock and forces gas out of the rocks.  The process has been criticized for contaminating ground water (with the fracking chemicals, which are a closely guarded trade secret) and water that can catch on fire

pumpjacks.jpgHere in BC the risks of hydraulic fracturing have caught the attention of people living near gas operations, as well as water activists and other activists.  But to date the BC government has not seemed particularly concerned. 

Not so with government authorities in the US, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will investigate hydraulic fracturing technology and its environmental impacts.  This has sent the industry into a bit of a tizzy, leading it to strike back with the claim that the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are as safe as Coca Cola.  One assumes that Coca Cola’s not going to incorporate that particular claim into their marketing anytime soon.  

Meanwhile the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is proposing a new regulation that would require oil and gas companies using hydraulic facturing to publicly disclose the chemicals that they use. 

All of which raises questions about what BC’s government is doing to ensure that hydraulic fracturing does not threaten BC’s groundwater.