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Amy Mall’s Blog

New data point to drinking water contamination near natural gas operations in Texas

Amy Mall

Posted January 10, 2014 in Health and the Environment

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I recently blogged about a report from the EPA's Inspector General, which found that drinking water in Texas near natural gas wells that had been fracked was contaminated with high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, and methane, an explosive gas. The Inspector General also found that emergency action was needed to protect the public from imminent and substantial endangerment--and that the current risk to residents has never been determined.

NRDC has repeatedly called on EPA to reopen this investigation. This contamination was first investigated more than three years ago. All residents of the area need to know if their drinking water is safe, and any responsible parties need to be held accountable.

New data reported today by Bloomberg reveal that more recent testing by indepedent scientists "show the water from many homes exceeds the level of 10 milligrams per liter that the U.S. Geological Survey has set as a minimum safety level...." The article cites levels as high as 54.7.

State regulators in Texas have sat idly by as drinking water remains contaminated. And the Inspector General report confirms that EPA did not offer any solid reason for dropping out when drinking water was unsafe, leaving the public to draw its own conclusions.

EPA should reopen its investigation and follow up on all of the IG’s recommendations without haste. Unfortunately, this case in Texas is part of a larger, troubling trend we’re seeing at EPA; the agency also dropped high-profile fracking investigations in Pavillion, Wyoming and Dimock, Pennsylvania. EPA needs to re-open these cases also.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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