As a Florida toxic landfill contamination lawyer, I believe that one of the most critical issues facing our environment today are attempts to obtain energy from hydraulic fracturing (informally known as “fracking”). It can cause ground water contamination and is associated with serious health effects, from skin rashes to numbness in extremities. But what is fracking? It is a method of oil and gas extraction that consists of shooting a pressurized blend of water, chemicals and drilling materials (such as sand) into shale rock formations deep underground. This process breaks apart, or “fractures”, the rock and releases the trapped energy.
In Washington County, Pennsylvania, three families are filing a lawsuit to seek damages to amend the dangerous water and even air pollutants that they have been subjected to as a result of nearby fracking sites. They are not alone, other states are experiencing similar health issues along with serious environmental effects, such as small earthquakes.
Although obviously environmentally detrimental, the fracking industry is heavily supported by the economy. It has been argued by fracking companies that this process is cheaper for consumers, and because of the abundance of the special underground rock formations it can relieve US dependence on foreign energy. However, the short-term economic benefits will not outweigh the long-term human health and environmental consequences.
Though the exact chemical formula is unknown, the fracking blend is proven to contain contaminates that are seriously detrimental to human health. These include: benzene, which is known to cause cancer; fluorine, which results in bone damage in excess; biocides, substances that are made to kill organisms; and lubricants, which cause kidney, heart, blood and brain damage.
The pressure and angle of the chemical mixture of the fracking method, shoots the deadly concoction towards our underground waterways that hold potable water (aquifers); essentially, directly injecting chemical pollutants into drinking water. Additionally, there have been a number of allegations concerning the improper disposal of the waste-water from the drilling process.
The resulting pollution can cause dramatic changes in the local groundwater. Over 1/3 of the injected fluids are though to persist in the aquifers and are movable through groundwater transportation. As a result, the fracking chemicals move into surrounding wells that are tapped for human consumption, assisting the move of polluted waters into local faucets and taps. The water in these areas developed a particular smell, taste and in some cases the tap water is literally flammable and has been known to cause explosions.
Naturally, the fracking industry denies any accountability for the contaminated water and subsequent health issues. However, numerous investigations by the EPA and the US Geological Survey in similar cases indicate that the groundwater surrounding fracking sites in Wyoming are contaminated with chemicals found in the fracking process.
Proposals about fracking coming to Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties have been rumored to happen within the year. Despite adamant denial from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in regards to fracking pitches, the oil industry has conducted research and designated land next to the Big Cypress National Preserve as prime fracking reserves.
Fracking is detrimental to our community’s health and environmental stability. In addition to cancer causing ground water contamination, the fracking procedure has been linked to small earthquakes and in long-term, climate change.
Here in Florida, we enjoy one of the world’s most productive aquifers, resulting in nearly constant supply of fresh and clean water. There is a very high possibility that fracking chemicals can leach into our drinking supply and cause potential injury, illness and death. It is essential that fracking corporations are held responsible for ensuing harm to humans and our environment as a result of their careless actions and blind greed and kept away from Florida’s reserves.
For more information, please see the attached links that provides documentation for the EPA and US Geological Surveys.