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    Fracking Developments & How You Can Prevent Philadelphia’s Water Supply from Contamination

    What is fracking & more behind what's endangering Philly's water supplyDo you like water?

    I love showing off my SIGG water bottle. It’s pretty yet dented from the number of times I’ve dropped it.  And I keep filling it up with tap water.  But, there may be a time I can’t fill it up anymore with tap.

    The Safe Drinking Water Act protects our precious water in Philly. Yet, fracking is a threat.  After hearing lots of questions from readers, I’ll now break down why Fracking is a danger to your water supply and the latest developments.

    What is fracking?  According to Gasland:

    Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.

    diagram of the fracking processIf you haven’t watched the 1 hr, 45 min documentary Gasland, I’ll summarize it: There’s no safe way to drill 8000 feet below the earth’s surface and protect the land around it, especially since the depth of drinking water aquifers is at 1000 feet.  Natural gas and fracking fluid (a mixture of 596 dangerous chemicals) from poor well casings can penetrate and contaminate the water.  Deep Green Philly has an informative podcast about Fracking if you prefer your info that way.

    The EPA just received test results for Dimock, PA after suspiciously taking over for water testing at 11 home sites due to fracking. While the EPA test results say any chemicals are still under “safe” drinking levels, residents are saying their drinking water has a range of contaminates including sodium & arsenic at unsafe levels. Dimock resident Scott Ely stated “We’ve had hundreds of tests done out here, and we’ve had so many different scientists say you have bad water here, there’s not a doubt about it. And yet when the state and feds test our water, they say we can drink it.” Plus, several residents are already importing water so they have a safe supply.

    But can’t they make Fracking Safe?

    According to the Food & Water watch website, there are numerous cases of water contamination near fracking sites. Fracking also produces a toxic wastewater that cannot be treated by standard treatment plants. It is especially dangerous because drillers are rushing to use the technique in new areas of the country without fully evaluating the effects on human health and the environment, and without adequate government oversight.   

    65 of the compounds used in fracking are hazardous to human health.  Not surprisingly, when the New York Times looked into Fracking in Montrose, PA: “Some people’s drinking water has been contaminated”.

    Would you feel comfortable if someone was going to drill in your backyard 8000 feet to bury anthrax in your yard? But they promised it was in a “safe” manner?

    Won’t fracking help bring “jobs” to locals? As the NYT article explains, “Fully half of the work force in Susquehanna County is employed outside its borders.”

    Let’s think about this whole scenario for a second.  The Fracking industry has done an amazing job of funding PR campaigns to convince the public it’s safe.  But where’s the proof?  Where’s all the people who are coming forward to discuss how happy they are that fracking is in their back yard?  It’s only fracking spokespeople. Further, politicians are receiving money from industry lobbyists to vote FOR lax fracking regulations.  (Want to know who’s buying your representatives’ votes? Check OpenSecrets.Org, which tracks the influence of money on US politics & how the money affects policy & citizen’s lives.   Did you know ExxonMobil gave $10K to PA Governor Tom Corbett? Guess who loves oil AND fracking? Sidenote: Thank goodness my Political Science degree was good for something!)

    In a powerful post by The Pilot, Carol French, whose family leased farmland to gas companies for 5 years and Carolyn Knapp, a “neutral” on the fracking issue, said this about the effects of Fracking on Bradford County, PA:

    “It’s very difficult for me to sit there and watch the land being destroyed,” Knapp said. “The only power we have to change this is through making our voices heard, because all the decisions being made right now are based on money.”

    Josh wolf of gasland with a fracking wellIsn’t this better for the environment than oil?

    The fracking process uses 1-8 million gallons of water to frack a well, tons of chemicals, & destroys surrounding lands.  Which means a lot of pollution & waste go into the efforts to frack the natural gas.

    So, what can you, in Philly right now, do to protect your water supply?

    • Educate yourself.  Read Rolling Stone’s Fracking piece, watch Gasland, this PSU Live post, or pretty much anything on Google News.
    • Contact your local officials. And often.
    • Find local organizations and join the anti-fracking fight.
    • Watch water test results & encourage the truth
    • Talk about it. The more people know, the wiser decisions they can vote & hopefully prevent fracking from spreading further.  (When I first mentioned fracking to my Dad, he had only sent the Natural gas PR BS.  Luckily, his Rolling Stone subscription set him straight. And he DVR’d Gasland. Win!)
    Pics courtesy of Desmogblog.com,  Technovelgy.com & Gasland




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    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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