Another reason to ban fracking

Science finds groundwater contamination due to hydraulic fracturing

A recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology suggests for the first time that hydraulic fracturing—that controversial oil-extraction method known as fracking—can, indeed, contaminate groundwater. In fact, the study reveals, it already has.

Stanford University scientists studied a groundwater basin near the tiny town of Pavillion, Wyo., which is close to fracking operations. The community originally began complaining about a foul taste to the drinking water there in 2008, but despite research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluding that fracking might cause aquifer contamination, nothing was done. The Stanford scientists didn’t let it rest, though, and determined that the dumping of fracking chemicals underground without an adequate concrete barrier allowed those chemicals to seep into Pavillion’s drinking water.

“This is a wake-up call,” said lead author Dominic DiGiulio, in a Stanford press release. “It’s perfectly legal to inject stimulation fluids into underground drinking water resources. This may be causing widespread impacts on drinking water resources.”

DiGiulio is right: It should be a wake-up call for all of us. Many in our local community, including the organization Frack-Free Butte County and this newspaper, have long warned about the threats fracking poses to the environment. The community o f Pavillion, Wyo., is learning that first-hand and the full scope of repercussions is yet to be known.

The Stanford study notes that shallow fracking operations are regulated only in two states—Colorado and Texas—and that Pavillion is by no means a solitary case. This June, let’s vote to ban fracking in Butte County—let’s not let our community become another test case.