Fracking oversight OK says EPA water chief


Hydraulic fracturing has been the source of much anxiety and anger as drilling in the Marcellus Shales in New York and Pennsylvania picked up in recent years. A lack of direct federal involvement in oversight of the process and incidents of residential water supplies near drill sites becoming contaminated have been the main rallying points for opponents.
But one official at the Environmental Protection Agency says he’s confident state regulators are doing a good job watching over fracking and that it has not yet been linked to any water contamination, reports Dow Jones:

“I have no information that states aren’t doing a good job already,” Steve Heare, director of EPA’s Drinking Water Protection Division said on the sidelines of a state regulators conference here [Washington]. He also said despite claims by environmental organizations, he hadn’t seen any documented cases that the hydro-fracking process was contaminating water supplies.
In its 2011 budget, the EPA is seeking to spend $4 million to study the environmental impacts of the process.
Bill Kappel, a U.S. Geological Survey official, said contamination of water supplies is more likely to happen as companies process the waste water from hydrofracking. In some instances, municipal water systems that treat the water have reported higher levels of heavy metals and radioactivity.
“Treatment of the [waste] water hasn’t caught up with the hydro-fracking technology,” Kappel said.
But both re-injection of that waste water and water treatment at the surface is already regulated by the federal government under the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts.

It seems poor well completion work is also to blame in some of the instances where there has been contamination as well. That’s a pretty important distinction to make because it narrows the possible areas where errors/accidents can occur and should focus people on what part of the process has the greater risks.

Categories: Natural gas
Tom Fowler

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  1. Sharon says:

    I’m partial to frack.
    Steve Heare obviously needs to do a little more research. Texas has no regulation specific to hydraulic fracturing. NONE. And, there is no program for testing groundwater. NONE. If you never test for contamination it’s not likely that you’ll find any.
    I don’t know what rock Heare lives under. The EPA found hydraulic fracturing chemicals in 11 private wells in Pavillion, WY.

  2. TomFowler says:

    You’ll notice the entry and story we link to doesn’t actually use the phrase “frack” but does use “fracking.” We haven’t actually finalized what we’re going to use for our style at The Chronicle, but I’m personally sticking with “fracking” and “frac” for the abbreviation. Since not everyone who reads us is in the industry or familiar with hydraulic fracturing, I think it’s better to go with “fracking” since “fracing” will confuse most English speakers. “Frac,” however, shouldn’t be too difficult.

  3. Brian says:

    I thought the whole frack (incorrect) vs frac (correct) debate was solved already, gees…..