Just days after an explosion rocked a hydraulic fracturing site in Pennsylvania, Congressional Democrats released a report detailing the dangers associated with fracking. Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have been investigating the dangers of fracking for years, and their new report has some startling new information about the risks, and which areas of the country are facing the biggest threats.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) summarized the major findings of the report as follows:
Over a five-year period from 2005-2009, companies used more than 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 different chemicals and other components, including chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens or are federally regulated because at certain levels they are known to be quite harmful to human health–such as benzene, lead, and diesel fuel.
Two fracking products contained hydrofluoric acid (hydrogen fluoride in water). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “You could be exposed to hydrogen fluoride if it is used as a chemical terrorism agent.” Hydrofluoric acid can eat through hard rocks. According to the CDC, swallowing only a small amount of highly concentrated hydrofluoric acid or even splashes of hydrofluoric acid on the skin can be fatal. It can cause a wide range of very serious health effects.
Many of the fracking fluids contain chemical components that are listed as “proprietary” or “trade secret,” so the public cannot know what chemicals are being stored, used, or disposed of in their communities or near their drinking water sources.
In addition to reporting on the dangerous chemicals used in fracking, the House Committee also showed which states are being pumped with the most fluids. At the top of the list is Texas, where more than 3.5 million gallons of toxins have been pumped into the earth, followed by Colorado with 1.5 million gallons over the four-year period studied. In Pennsylvania where the recent fracking well blew, 747,000 gallons of toxic fracking fluid were used from 2005 – 2009.
Over the four year period studied, more than 21.5 million gallons of fracking fluid had been used throughout the United States, utilized by only 14 different oil and gas companies. The industry uses more than 650 different types of fracking fluid solutions, and the report found that at least 95 had 13 different components that are known carcinogens.
The leak in Pennsylvania has been stopped for now, but as this new report shows, there are other areas of America that are poised for even greater disasters than we saw in Pennsylvania.