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Reports highlight inadequate attention to drinking-water contamination from fracking

The potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing with respect to water purity have become fairly well-known across the United States. Environmentalists, naturally, have called attention to the potential environmental impact of “fracking.” Even the federal government, though, has highlighted the dangers of fracking with respect to water contamination. Two recent reports, the result of a two-year audit conducted by the Government Accountability Office, found that the Environmental Protection Agency is not doing enough to protect drinking water supplies from fracking contamination.

The problem is particularly pronounced when it comes to the process of utilizing specific chemicals to directly mine for oil and natural gas. While other aspects of the fracking process are regulated and monitored by the EPA, direct production of oil and natural gas is exempt. Because gas production very often occurs at the same ground depth as that on which drinking-water aquifers reside, the potential for contamination is significant. 

Unfortunately, actual monitoring of drinking-water wells is not a frequent thing and the rules for monitoring wells that are particularly at risk were drafted well before the hydraulic fracturing boom. From the sounds of it there are no plans to change those rules anytime soon, which means contamination will continue to be a risk.

With all of this going on, those at risk of consuming fracking-contaminated water might wonder what recourse they have if they run into problems. The issue is obviously an important one, and those who are impacted by contamination need to understand what options they have if their family is harmed. Working with an experienced environmental law attorney can help answer these questions and ensure appropriate compensation for any harm suffered. 

Source: Minnpost, “Fracking’s threat to drinking water is getting little EPA scrutiny, studies find,” Ron Meador, August 14, 2014.

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