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Two more cases of drinking water contamination linked to hydraulic fracturing in Texas

Amy Mall

Posted December 22, 2010 in Health and the Environment

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I recently learned about two new cases of groundwater contamination in the Barnett shale area; the victims claim that hydraulic fracturing is a suspected cause.

In the first case, Grace Mitchell, a resident of Johnson County, Texas, recently sued Encana and Chesapeake. According to her lawsuit, soon after drilling and hydraulic fracturing took place near her home earlier this year, her water became contaminated, feeling slick to the touch and giving off an oily, gasoline-like odor. Testing results performed on her well water confirmed it was contaminated with various chemicals, including C-12-C28 hydrocarbons, similar to diesel fuel.

In the second case, the Harris family of Denton County, Texas, is suing Devon Energy. They say that their water became contaminated soon after Devon commenced drilling and hydraulic fracturing near their home in 2008, and that their water became polluted with a gray sediment. Testing results performed on the well water found contamination with high levels of metals: aluminum, arsenic, barium, beryllium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, lithium, magnesium, manganese, nickel, potassium, sodium, strontium, titanium, vanadium, and zinc.

The attorney for both the Harris family and Ms. Mitchell recently stated: "The full scope of ground water contamination in the Barnett Shale will not be known for some time, however it appears to be extensive. We believe that hundreds and more likely thousands of property owners have already had the water beneath their surface essentially ruined as a result of nearby drilling and fracking in the Barnett Shale."

This is a very alarming statement, to say the least. As I recently posted, EPA has begun investigating groundwater contamination in Texas. This is powerful evidence for the need for federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing. Legislation to establish such regulation continues to gain support, closing out the year with over 70 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and ten in the Senate. We hope to gain even more support in 2011.

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