February 17, 2010
Hydraulic fracturing has been the source of much anxiety and anger as drilling in the Marcellus Shales in New York and Pennsylvania picked up in recent years. A lack of direct federal involvement in oversight of the process and incidents of residential water supplies near drill sites becoming contaminated have been the main rallying points for opponents.
But one official at the Environmental Protection Agency says he's confident state regulators are doing a good job watching over fracking and that it has not yet been linked to any water contamination, reports Dow Jones:
It seems poor well completion work is also to blame in some of the instances where there has been contamination as well. That's a pretty important distinction to make because it narrows the possible areas where errors/accidents can occur and should focus people on what part of the process has the greater risks.
"I have no information that states aren't doing a good job already," Steve Heare, director of EPA's Drinking Water Protection Division said on the sidelines of a state regulators conference here [Washington]. He also said despite claims by environmental organizations, he hadn't seen any documented cases that the hydro-fracking process was contaminating water supplies.
In its 2011 budget, the EPA is seeking to spend $4 million to study the environmental impacts of the process.
Bill Kappel, a U.S. Geological Survey official, said contamination of water supplies is more likely to happen as companies process the waste water from hydrofracking. In some instances, municipal water systems that treat the water have reported higher levels of heavy metals and radioactivity.
"Treatment of the [waste] water hasn't caught up with the hydro-fracking technology," Kappel said.
But both re-injection of that waste water and water treatment at the surface is already regulated by the federal government under the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts.
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