Report: EPA concluded in 1987 fracking was unsafe

According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article published today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded in 1987 that hydraulic fracturing can contaminate groundwater and private wells.

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” has become a controversial method to release trapped oil or natural gas. Critics say the process can contaminate groundwater and nearby water wells and can cause air pollution.

The oil and gas industry has contended for years that the process is safe.

However, the Environmental Working Group unearthed an EPA finding that concludes that a gas well drilled and fracked by the Kaiser Gas Co. in 1982 did contaminate groundwater.

“During the fracturing process,” EPA investigators wrote in the 1987 report, “fractures can be produced, allowing migration of native brine, fracturing fluid and hydrocarbons from the oil or gas well to a nearby water well. When this happens, the water well can be permanently damaged and a new well must be drilled or an alternative source of drinking water found.”

The group called on the EPA to step up their efforts to study fracking.

“Now it’s up to the EPA to pick up where it left off 25 years ago and determine the true risks of fracking so that our drinking water can be protected,” said Dusty Horwitt, EWG’s senior oil and gas analyst and author of the organization’s 35-page report report.

The graphic below is from the Environmental Working Group’s report about fracking. The group says the graphic details how fracking can contaminate wells and groundwater. The New York Times obtained the documents from EWG. To read the EPA report, click here.

To read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s story, click here.

(Graphic: Environmental Working Group)