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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Fracking Chemicals

Lenin nightingale RINF Alternative News

US Congress legislation in 2005 exempted fracking companies from the regulatory supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under its the Safe Drinking Water Act. No other industry in is allowed to inject known hazardous materials near underground drinking water supplies. During Dick Cheney’s term as vice president he lobbied the EPA to give a thumbs up to a major expansion of shale gas drilling. His former company, Halliburton, is a major producer of chemical fracking fluids. In 2004, the EPA issued a study of the environmental effects of fracking. Following a whistleblowers sceptism of this study, the Oil and Gas Accountability Project conducted a review which found that EPA removed information from earlier drafts suggesting ‘fracturing fluids may pose a threat to drinking water long after drilling operations are completed’.

The Obama Administration and the Energy Department formed an advisory commission on fracking, headed by former CIA director John Deuss, a board member of both Citigroup (a bank that funds fracking companies) and Halliburton. Of the seven commission members, six had ties to the energy industry. Their report in 2011, not unsurprisingly, called shale gas, ‘the best piece of news about energy in the last 50 years’.

Shale needs to be fracked using a mixture of hot water, sand, and poisonous chemicals, the composition of which fracking companies claim to be proprietary secrets, and disclosing them would make them less competitive. However, scientists who have analyzed fracking fluid discovered the following substances common to diesel fuel: Benzene, Ethylbenzene, Toluene, Xylene, Naphthalene, Methanol, Formaldehyde, Ethylene glycol, Glycol ethers, Hydrochloric acid, Sodium hydroxide. Most fracking companies surveyed by a 2010 Congressional Committee admitted that diesel fuel is part of their fracking mixture. Where diesel fuel was not used, chemical mixtures includes high levels of benzene, a tiny amount of which can poison millions of gallons of water.

Theo Colburn, PhD, director of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Colorado, identified 65 chemicals that are probably used in fracking fluids. These included benzene, glycol-ethers, toluene, and ethanol, all of which have been linked to health problems when human exposure is too high. In 2012, ShaleTest visited many fracking sites in North Texas, monitoring ambient air using stainless steel summa canisters. Results showed the presence of the known carcinogen benzene. “It is unacceptable that the natural gas industries are ignoring the devastating impacts they have on citizens and the environment”, commented Susan Sullivan, board member of ShaleTest.

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