Is Fracking Clean and Safe enough?

What the frack are we doing to our planet?

Cartoonist Mike Keefe has his doubts about the safety of fracking.
Sources and more information

Toxic Chemicals from fracking could significantly affect wildlife, people in the UK, EU

Chemical Pollution from fracking report and recommendations

This post content is published by CHEMtrust
 protecting humans and wildlife from harmful chemicals.

fracking-site image
In CHEM Trust’s view there should be an EU-wide moratorium on fracking until all their recommendations regarding regulations, chemical disclosure, monitoring, regulators, location water supply are in place.
Fracking site image by Wilderness Committee © All rights reserved.

High volume hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’, is a controversial technology used for extracting oil or gas resources which are trapped in shale rocks, coal seams and similar deposits. In the US, where fracking is carried out extensively, there are many examples of fracking causing chemical pollution leading to health and environmental impacts.

Due to our concerns about fracking, CHEM Trust commissioned a detailed examination of the impacts of fracking with respect to chemical pollution; the detailed reportChemical Pollution from Fracking” is also available here.

This briefing summarises the “Chemical Pollution from Fracking” report, discussing some of the latest developments and includes our recommendations for the future.

Fracking operations require large numbers of wells, and need substantial volumes of water and chemicals. This chemical use, combined with the substances that flowback from underground, makes fracking a potentially significant source of air, land and water pollution.

In addition, fracking operations also generate substantial noise and air pollution from vehicles and other equipment. Note that in this briefing we use the term ‘fracking’ to cover the entire process of shale gas exploration and production.

Our key recommendations are:

  1. All chemicals used in fracking must be disclosed, with no provision for commercial confidentiality.
  2. Stronger EU regulation of fracking is required, ensuring that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are required for all sites, chemical use is controlled and transparent, effective monitoring is obligatory and wastewater management is safe, including an absolute ban on disposal of wastewater by re-injection into the ground.
  3. Regulations must protect the environment and people even when fracking wells are no longer used, including financial bonds to cover clean-up costs.
  4. Effective monitoring and enforcement is essential to ensure that regulatory controls are followed. This means that regulators must have the resources to carry out these functions; this is a particular concern in the UK where the Environment Agency (EA) is experiencing substantial budget cuts.

In CHEM Trust’s view there should be an EU-wide moratorium on fracking until all their recommendations regarding regulations, chemical disclosure, monitoring, regulators, location water supply are in place.

Sources and more information

  • Fracking pollution: How toxic chemicals from fracking could affect wildlife and people in the UK and EU, CHEMtrust, June 2015.
  • Chemical Pollution from Fracking report, written by Philip J Lightowlers for CHEM Trust, updated April 2015.
  • Fracking – Our recommendations, CHEMtrust.
  • Chemicals from fracking could cause significant pollution and damage to wildlife, CHEMtrust, by MICHAEL WARHURST on JUNE 20, 2015

Low birth weights associated with proximity to fracking sites

Significant association’ between low birth weights and how close pregnant women live to unconventional gas drilling

fracking-site-and-equipment image
Researchers examining the proximity of pregnant women to unconventional gas drilling sites have found that those living closest to gas wells drilled with hydraulic fracturing – fracking – may be more likely to have babies with lower birth weights than those living farther away.

2015 Study Abstract

Unconventional gas drilling (UGD) has enabled extraordinarily rapid growth in the extraction of natural gas. Despite frequently expressed public concern, human health studies have not kept pace. We investigated the association of proximity to UGD in the Marcellus Shale formation and perinatal outcomes in a retrospective cohort study of 15,451 live births in Southwest Pennsylvania from 2007–2010. Mothers were categorized into exposure quartiles based on inverse distance weighted (IDW) well count; least exposed mothers (first quartile) had an IDW well count less than 0.87 wells per mile, while the most exposed (fourth quartile) had 6.00 wells or greater per mile. Multivariate linear (birth weight) or logistical (small for gestational age (SGA) and prematurity) regression analyses, accounting for differences in maternal and child risk factors, were performed. There was no significant association of proximity and density of UGD with prematurity. Comparison of the most to least exposed, however, revealed lower birth weight (3323 ± 558 vs 3344 ± 544 g) and a higher incidence of SGA (6.5 vs 4.8%, respectively; odds ratio: 1.34; 95% confidence interval: 1.10–1.63). While the clinical significance of the differences in birth weight among the exposure groups is unclear, the present findings further emphasize the need for larger studies, in regio-specific fashion, with more precise characterization of exposure over an extended period of time to evaluate the potential public health significance of UGD.

Sources and more information
  • Low birth weights associated with proximity to fracking sites, medicalnewstoday, 5 June 2015.
  • Perinatal Outcomes and Unconventional Natural Gas Operations in Southwest Pennsylvania, PLOS one, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126425, June 3, 2015.

Fracking prohibited in New York thanks to Governor Cuomo

New York Says No Fracking Way!

Governor Cuomo HVHF Cabinet Meeting image
Governor Cuomo held a Cabinet Meeting with members of his administration to provide an update on High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking) in New York State.

Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.

In a surprise decision to many, Governor Cuomo has decided against hydrualic fracturing (fracking) in the state of New York. The decision has been approximately six years in the making, as detailed in our prior blogs

Governor Cuomo agreed with New York’s acting Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, who concluded that fracking has a potential widespread negative impact, prospects that are uncertain at best and economic advantages which are now far lower that originally anticipated. Dr Zucker continued by saying that he considered the people of New York to be his patients and that “We cannot afford to make a mistake. The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not fully known.” Governor Cuomo stated, “I think it’s our responsibility to develop an alternative… for safe, clean economic development.” Although it appears that Governor Cuomo intentionally delayed promulgating his decision until after the recent elections, it is welcomed decision by many, both parties alike.

Perhaps the prevailing factor in this decision was of an economic nature. Recently, Arab countries jointly decided against cutting oil production in order to drive the falling prices of oil upward. This decision, although uncharacteristic in nature, was a well thought out and clever decision. Fracking is an expensive process that reportedly cost an estimated $75 per barrel for oil to produce. Now that oil is just under $60 per barrel on the market, fracking is quickly becoming cost ineffective. If oil prices continue to fall, we will likely see many of the approximate 35 states that currently allow fracking, follow in New York State’s path.

It would appear that the maxim “Half a loaf of bread is better than none,” still rings true today. It unfortunately also appears to still ring true, that money is always the bottom line in all major governmental decisions. Fracking adversaries can at least seek comfort in the end result of governor cuomo’s decision. ”

Sources and more information

  • New York Says No Fracking Way!, liattorney, 12/18/2014.
  • Why New York Banned Fracking, nofrackingway, 2014/12/17.
  • Governor Cuomo Saves New York From Getting Fracked!, nofrackingway, 2014/12/17.
  • High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Prohibited in New York, nygov.tumblr, 2014/12/17.

Fracking linked to Miscarriages, Birth Defects and Infertility

Strong evidence of decreased semen quality in men, higher miscarriages in women and increased risk of birth defects in children, due to chemicals released from fracking

Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations release large amounts of reproductive, immunological, and neurological toxicants, carcinogens as well as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) into the environment that may negatively affect human health. Studies show that humans can be harmed by these chemicals released from fracking ; there is strong evidence of decreased semen quality in men, higher miscarriages in women and increased risk of birth defects in children.

image of fracking
Fracking chemicals are linked to serious reproductive, developmental health risks

Abstract

Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations have the potential to increase air and water pollution in communities located near UOG operations. Every stage of UOG operation from well construction to extraction, operations, transportation, and distribution can lead to air and water contamination. Hundreds of chemicals are associated with the process of unconventional oil and natural gas production. In this work, we review the scientific literature providing evidence that adult and early life exposure to chemicals associated with UOG operations can result in adverse reproductive health and developmental effects in humans. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) [including benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene (BTEX) and formaldehyde] and heavy metals (including arsenic, cadmium and lead) are just a few of the known contributors to reduced air and water quality that pose a threat to human developmental and reproductive health. The developing fetus is particularly sensitive to environmental factors, which include air and water pollution. Research shows that there are critical windows of vulnerability during prenatal and early postnatal development, during which chemical exposures can cause potentially permanent damage to the growing embryo and fetus. Many of the air and water pollutants found near UOG operation sites are recognized as being developmental and reproductive toxicants; therefore there is a compelling need to increase our knowledge of the potential health consequences for adults, infants, and children from these chemicals through rapid and thorough health research investigation.

Sources and more information
  • Developmental and reproductive effects of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and natural gas operations, degruyter, Reviews on Environmental Health. Volume 29, Issue 4, Pages 307–318, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: 10.1515/reveh-2014-0057, December 2014. Full text PDF link and download.
  • Fracking Chemicals Linked to Serious Reproductive, Developmental Health Risks, ceh, DECEMBER 5, 2014.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth linked to fracking chemical exposure, theecologist, 15th December 2014.
  • Chemicals Released During Natural Gas Extraction May Harm Human Reproduction and Development, missouri.edu, Dec. 05, 2014.

Fracking and Pink Washing…

Pink ribbon culture distracts from meaningful progress on breast cancer

Fracking and PinkWashing poster
Join the #ThinkBeforeYouPink campaign by @BCAction
Read #RethinkThePink: dealing with #PinkWashing during Breast Cancer awareness

What have all these pink ribbon products and promotions done for women living with and at risk of breast cancer?

Sources:

BC Action, Think Before You Pink website and Facebook page. PDF.

On Flickr®

RethinkThePink: dealing with Pink Stuff during Breast Cancer awareness…

What is pink washing?

Baker Hughes pink drill image
Pinkwashing: pink drill bits being rolled out for breast cancer awareness month by Baker Hughes.

#PinkWashing is the act of appearing to support the fight against breast cancer by slapping a pink label on a product that most likely contains ingredients or elements linked to causing cancer. Many companies even raise the price of products or create a limited edition product to boost their profits, while only donating a meager portion of that profit to research treatments.

#RethinkThePink: stop buying products from companies that engage in pinkwashing as they stock your stores full of toxins – and profit off this deadly disease.

#ThinkBeforeYouPink: a campaign as a direct call to STOP THE DISTRACTION of pink ribbon marketing and culture.

Join Mamavation and The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and The Breast Cancer Fund on Wednesday, Oct. 15th 6pm PST/9pm EST to learn more about pinkwashing, breast cancer prevention and how you can #RethinkthePink.

Sources and more information:
  • #RethinkthePink: Stop Companies Profiting Off Your Charity While Breast Cancer Still Kills, Mamavation, September 30, 2014.
  • Fracking company’s pink drill bits spark outrage, MNN, Oct 13, 2014.
  • Visit ThinkBeforeYouPink website and campaigns.
  • Beyond the Pink: From Awareness to Prevention, BreastCancerFund.
  • Watch these pink washing videos on YouTube.