Contamination from oil and gas waste reported around the country

In general I keep my blogging to incidents that best epitomize the environmental threats posed by oil and gas production and the lack of sufficient regulations to protect human health, clean air and drinking water. After all, I only have so much time to write, and others have only so much time to read.

But there are many incidents worthy of attention, and today I am briefly listing several related to the release of harmful oil and gas waste into the environment, with links to more information.

Colorado: In May, 2008, a western Colorado resident drank his spring water and immediately fell ill. It turned out his water was contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen, and other toxic substances at 20 times the safe level. More than a year later, the Colorado state agencies tasked with regulating the oil and gas industry are still investigating this incident. The owner of the contaminated property finally commissioned his own study, which found that the poisoning of his water is connected to nearby natural gas waste pits. The property owner has not only fallen ill, but has also lost his livelihood.

West Virginia: In late August a pit holding hydraulic fracturing waste was reported to have breached in Doddridge County. This pit was located within feet of Buckeye Run Creek and at least 2500 gallons of a red gel spilled into the creek.

Ohio: There are an estimated 36,000 abandoned oil wells in Wood County, and it is estimated that only 1-2 percent are properly plugged. Some of them are now contaminating drinking water wells.

Pennsylvania:  A spill that contaminated miles of the Dunkard Creek along the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border killed all of the aquatic life in the creek, including  freshwater mussels, salamanders and aquatic insects, and threatened water quality in the Monongahela River, which is a source of drinking water for 850,000 people. The contamination is still being investigated and is thought to be the result of several factors, among them natural gas drilling waste and a invasive lethal algae that is thought to have been transported from Texas on drilling rigs.

Texas: Residents of DeBerry, in Panola County, are reporting health impacts such as headaches, chronic fatigue, spontaneous nosebleeds, respiratory problems, and cancer that they believe are related to contaminated drinking water that has strong odors and is yellow or brown in color. They are concerned that oil and gas waste pits and disposal wells are leaking toxic substances into their water source.

About the Authors

Amy Mall

Senior Policy Analyst, Land & Wildlife program

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