Fracked tap water in Texas is 99% PR spin

When you have lived in the same place for 20 years and all of sudden your hair turns orange after you wash it, you might be more than a little concerned.

But, of course, don’t blame the natural gas company that is pumping thousands of gallons of toxic sludge into the ground just up the street. That can’t possibly have anything to do with your hair turning orange or the chemically smelling sediment floating around in your water glass.

After all, the natural gas industry, in a process called hydraulic fracturing (also called “fracking”), says that 99-percent of the sludge they use is just water and sand.

The 1 percent that isn’t water and sand is chemicals like formamide, a “reproductive toxicant” that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says targets organs like the “eyes, skin, respiratory system, central nervous system, [and] reproductive system.”

Also in the 1 percent is something called Glutaraldehyde, a “developmental toxicant, immunotoxicant, reproductive toxicant, respiratory toxicant, skin or sense organ toxicant.”

Now when you consider that the average fracking operation uses more than a million gallons of fluid, that means this teeny tiny 1 percent of toxins is a whopping 10,000 gallons.

I’m thinking something deemed a “developmental toxicant” is probably not a good thing in any amount and it’s definitely not good in the thousands-of-gallons. So that’s the issue, now back to the orange hair.

The Scoma family has lived in the small town of Dish, Texas for more then 20 years. In 2002, the family drilled a new drinking water well and the well ran clean and clear.

Along comes the fracking natural gas company and their ten thousand gallons of toxic sludge. Now Linda Scoma’s hair turns orange when she washes it. The Scoma’s describe their tap water as discolored with an oily sheen.

A company came and tested their water and after getting the results told them that there was increasing levels of the chemicals used in the fracking process in their tap water.

The natural gas company says their operation has nothing to do with it. No, seriously, they say that their operation just up from the Scoma’s house that pumps over a million gallons of sludge laced with toxins into the ground has nothing to do with those same chemicals showing up in their tap water.

The Scoma family has filed a lawsuit against the natural gas company, Chesapeake Energy, claiming that their operation contaminated their tap water with benzene and petroleum by-products.

It is stories like the Scomas that has prompted the US government to undertake a comprehensive study on the contamination of fresh water aquifers from the process of hydraulic fracking.

In true government-style the study on the impacts of fracking on the fresh water supply is expected to be completed in late 2012 - I think Einstein figured out the theory of relativity in less time.

In the meantime, enjoy that fresh clean water running from your tap because you never know when you too might get fracked.


A good report piece.

But, there is no “k” in fracture and I am asking any and all to just write ‘fracing”.

and we still call it a “fridge”. Let’s leave that kind of stuff to the CBC’s “Pet Language Peeves” blog and focus on the issue at hand.

I live on a well, and I can tell you I get that water tested all the time. So far, so good. But I can relate to people who have had their aquifer pressure-injected with toxins. There is nowhere to go. It will have been pushed into every crack and crevice, and will lie there waiting decades - centuries, until it finds it’s way up to the surface again to make somebody’s grandchildren sick. Meanwhile, they light the tapwater on fire for light in a blackout … Sick.


Thank you for an informative piece that cuts to the chase and lifts the smog being blown by drillers in Texas and nationwide. As one who used to work with formaldehyde in the fire retardant chemical manufacturing industry I can attest that formaldehyde is a carcinogen that is highly toxic. Its presence in frac’ing fluids, along with a toxic cocktail of many other chemicals renders the argument that “it is 99% clean water” irrelevant. There is no such thing as “99% clean water” - either water is clean (100%), or else it is polluted.

If frac water is so clean and safe, then I wonder why no driller or drilling company executive will drink a glass drawn from a contaminated well near where they have frac’ed. If I ever saw one of those guys do that, then I might be more convinced of one of two things - either the guy is correct and there is no harm from drinking the water, or else the guy is just plain stupid and he is going to die from drinking the water.