Letter to the Editor of the The Washington Post
Your editorial in the February 15, 2013 edition “The natural-gas boom” supports the use of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to extract natural gas from deep below the surface. You question the necessity of further research as proposed by the Governors of New York and Maryland. However, there is one major aspect of fracking that your editorial ignores, the wastewater resulting from fracking.
What is the magnitude of this problem? Chesapeake Energy states that typical horizontal deep shale wells require an average of 4.5 million gallons of water per well. The EPA has identified over 1000 toxic chemicals in the wastewater, mostly introduced by the fracturing fluids. While Clean Water Act regulations prohibit these wastewater discharges directly into the waters of the U.S., there are no national comprehensive regulations on their disposal. Some wastewaters are transported to public or private water treatment facilities that probably do not have the capabilities to remove all of the toxic and radioactive components. Some operations use storage tanks and open pits to store these contaminated waters until reused or shipped for disposal.
We do not need further pollution put into our drinking water supplies, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and the Chesapeake Bay. The EPA now is conducting a “Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources” that should be completed by late 2014. What is the rush to drill more now and possibly contaminate our most precious resource, clean water? All Americans should heed the caution set by Governors Cuomo and O’Malley, not the proposal in your editorial.
Andrew Monjan, Ph.D.