Pennsylvania news outlets reported two major developments in the controversy over fracking and unconventional gas today. The president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition has admitted publicly that fracking has contaminated local drinking water supplies in Pennsylvania.
And PA governor Tom Corbett has ordered gas drillers to stop taking fracking wastewater to public water treatment facilities (POTWs).
Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jeanne VanBreisen was first to discover high levels of bromides in drinking water sourced from rivers that have received treated fracking wastewater. Bromide is a salt also found in drilling wastewater from fracking operations.
The news is extra worrisome because bromides, when combined with chlorine at water treatment plants, can create bromates trihalomethanes, which are linked to bladder cancer, miscarriage and still births.
As a result of this shocking discovery, today the Pennsivania Department of Environmental Protection ordered Marcellus Shale gas drillers to stop trucking wastewater to 15 treatment plants in the state.
The industry’s admission that dirty gas fracking is causing drinking water contamination is long overdue, and welcomed. Now the state of Pennsylvania has every reason to place an immediate halt on fracking operations until the gas industry is held accountable for its damage to the state’s water supply. This troubling news is yet another reason why fracking for unconventional gas needs to be banned nationwide until the gas industry can prove it isn’t causing damage to public health, water supplies and the global climate.
Photo credit: David Turnbull
This is a guest post by Gus Van Harten, professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School and author of Sold Down the Yangtze: Canada's Lopsided Investment Deal with China. This post originally...