Article courtesy of Alexander Dominguez | November 18, 2014 | Daily Titan | Shared as educational material
Fracking is a controversial issue on its own. It becomes a bigger issue when it contaminates an already scarce resource.
It was recently discovered that state officials allowed oil and gas companies to contaminate almost three billion gallons of waste water into underground aquifers in California. The irresponsibly contaminated water could have been used for drinking or irrigation.
California’s Department of Conservation Chief Deputy Director Jason Marshall’s explanation for the event was that “an error could have been made.”
The massive amounts of water used to release and retrieve fossil fuels, known as fracking, has already sparked huge controversy over environmental concerns. Critics of fracking argue that possible carcinogenic chemicals could escape and pollute any groundwater in the surrounding area. There are also concerns of air pollution. However, the industry defends against these claims by saying that the risks are result of bad practice and not risky technique.
Critics also argue that fracking could cause Earth tremors. In 2011, Blackpool, a coastal city in England, experienced two small magnitude earthquakes after fracking.
Realistically, pollution and a little shaking are nothing new to California. However, California’s water supply, or lack there of, is a serious issue for our drought-ridden state.
As of July, California only has roughly 12 to 18 months of water left, according to a Los Angeles Times article. While the state has had some rain since July, 2014 is still standing to be one of the warmest and driest years for California.
Fracking already uses up large quantities of water to extract the fuel from the ground. A single well could use anywhere from hundreds to millions of gallons of water.
With so much of this precious and valuable resource already being consumed for the fracking process, it is totally unacceptable that California officials simply allowed what water we do have to become tainted.
In fact, this activity is not only irresponsible by our leaders, but could be illegal.
The aquifers that were affected by the multibillion gallon waste dumping should have been protected by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Sole Source Aquifer Protection Program is authorized under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. According to the Sole Source Aquifer, the Environmental Protection Agency is required to look into any projects that may endanger a significant water source that could cause a significant hazard if contaminated.
Chief Deputy Director Marshall commented that oil and gas companies will often re-inject the fracking waste back deep underground where the actual fracking took place. However, sometimes the waste water is injected into aquifers that the Environmental Protection Agency have deemed “exempt,” or not clean enough for human use or consumption.
That did not stop waste water from being put into at least nine perfectly usable aquifers, and causing the shutdown of 11 wells.
Hollin Kretzmann from the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco, described the pumping as inexcusable, saying that the wells may now be irreparably contaminated, in an interview with NBC News.
If this is the case, California has taken a major hit in an already uphill battle.
Water is not easy to come by for Californians right now, and the state population cannot afford to waste a single drop, let alone an entire underground lake.