Frack­ing can harm drink­ing wa­ter

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -


Hy­draulic frac­tur­ing to release nat­u­ral gas and oil can have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the qual­ity and avail­abil­ity of drink­ing wa­ter in the United States, the US gov­ern­ment said Tues­day. “This as­sess­ment is the most com­plete com­pi­la­tion to date of na­tional sci­en­tific data on the re­la­tion­ship of drink­ing wa­ter re­sources and hy­draulic frac­tur­ing,” said Thomas Burke, the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s sci­ence ad­viser.

The fi­nal EPA re­port “pro­vides sci­en­tific ev­i­dence that hy­draulic frac­tur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties can im­pact drink­ing wa­ter re­sources in the United States un­der some cir­cum­stances,” and is based on a re­view of over 1,200 cited sci­en­tific sources. Hy­draulic frac­tur­ing, or frack­ing, in­volves pump­ing large quan­ti­ties of wa­ter and chem­i­cals at high pres­sure deep into the Earth to frac­ture rock to stim­u­late the flow of nat­u­ral gas or oil.

The EPA re­port was is­sued at the request of Congress. The EPA’s ini­tial as­sess­ment had found no ev­i­dence that frack­ing could sys­tem­at­i­cally harm wa­ter sup­plies. But the fi­nal re­port re­versed course, and deleted that sen­tence. It also “identified cer­tain con­di­tions un­der which im­pacts from hy­draulic frac­tur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties can be more fre­quent or se­vere,” in­clud­ing frack­ing in ar­eas where wa­ter avail­abil­ity is low, and dis­pos­ing of waste­water in un­lined pits.

The re­port did not doc­u­ment spe­cific in­stances of drink­ing wa­ter im­pacts. Nor did it es­ti­mate how com­mon frack­ing pol­lu­tion of drink­ing wa­ter might be. “The value of high-qual­ity sci­ence has never been more im­por­tant in help­ing to guide de­ci­sions around our nation’s frag­ile wa­ter re­sources,” said Burke. “EPA’s as­sess­ment pro­vides the sci­en­tific foun­da­tion for lo­cal de­ci­sion mak­ers, in­dus­try, and com­mu­ni­ties that are look­ing to pro­tect pub­lic health and drink­ing wa­ter re­sources and make more in­formed de­ci­sions about hy­draulic frac­tur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.” —AFP

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