Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

AP Exclusive: Fracking Boom Responsible for 175 Million Gallons of Toxic Wastewater Spilled Since 2009

Fracking
AP Exclusive: Fracking Boom Responsible for 175 Million Gallons of Toxic Wastewater Spilled Since 2009

Among the litany of risks posed by the continued extraction and use of fossil fuels, an Associated Press analysis published Tuesday exposes yet another harmful side effect of the oil and gas drilling boom: an uptick in toxic wastewater spills.

A pipe pours fracking waste into an unlined holding pond in Kern County, California. Photo credit: Faces of Fracking

According to data obtained from leading oil- and gas-producing states, "more than 175 million gallons of wastewater spilled from 2009 to 2014 in incidents involving ruptured pipes, overflowing storage tanks and other mishaps or even deliberate dumping," Associated Press reports, tainting agricultural land, poisoning drinking water and sparking the mass die-off of plant and animal life.

Most of the incidents involved the spill of fracking wastewater, which is a combination of underground brine mixed with a slurry of undisclosed chemicals. As the story notes, "A big reason why there are so many spills is the sheer volume of wastewater" produced, which according an organization of state groundwater agencies, amounts to roughly 10 barrels for every barrel of oil or more than 840 billion gallons a year.

The report details a sampling of incidents, which help illustrate the scope of the problem. In one instance, a roughly 1 million gallon spill in North Dakota in 2006 caused a "massive die-off of fish, turtles and plants in the Yellowstone River and a tributary." In another case, a decades-long seepage of toxic brine onto Montana's Fort Peck Indian Reservation polluted a river, private wells and the municipal water system, making the water "undrinkable."

What's more, the amount of toxic byproduct spilled along ranch land, streams and forests has grown each year since the so-called fracking boom began.

"In 2009, there were 2,470 reported spills in the 11 states; by 2014, the total was 4,643. The amount of wastewater spilled doubled from 21.1 million gallons in 2009 to 43 million in 2013 before dipping to 33.5 million last year," Associated Press reports.

The analysis found a total of 21,651 individual spills reported in Texas, North Dakota, California, Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Kansas, Utah and Montana during that period. However, Associated Press notes that this figure is incomplete because "ninth-ranking oil producer Louisiana and second-ranking gas producer Pennsylvania" failed to provide spill data and other such incidents often go undocumented.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Will Fracking Be the Demise of Chaco Canyon National Historical Park?

Stop the Frack Attack National Summit Oct. 3-5

EPA Urged by Nearly 100,000 Americans to Redo Highly Controversial Fracking Study

A new species of bat has been identified in West Africa. MYOTIS NIMBAENSIS / BAT CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL

In 2018, a team of researchers went to West Africa's Nimba Mountains in search of one critically endangered species of bat. Along the way, they ended up discovering another.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse attends a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2015. Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to cancel the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his administration, a document reported by CBC on Sunday suggests.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Seabirds often follow fishing vessels to find easy meals. Alexander Petrov / TASS via Getty Images

By Jim Palardy

As 2021 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife worldwide are facing a panoply of environmental issues. In an effort to help experts and policymakers determine where they might focus research, a panel of 25 scientists and practitioners — including me — from around the globe held discussions in the fall to identify emerging issues that deserve increased attention.

Read More Show Less
A damaged home and flooding are seen in Creole, Louisiana, following Hurricane Laura's landfall on August 27, 2020. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Elliott Negin

What a difference an election makes. Thanks to the Biden-Harris victory in November, the next administration is poised to make a 180-degree turn to again address the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
The new variant, known as B.1.1.7, spread quickly through southeastern England in December, causing case numbers to spike and triggering stricter lockdown measures. Hollie Adams / Getty Images

By Suresh Dhaniyala and Byron Erath

A fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been found in at least 10 states, and people are wondering: How do I protect myself now?

Read More Show Less