The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Despite Industry Claims, Methane from Frack Wells Contaminates PA Water Supplies
According to a detailed report on NPR yesterday by Scott Detrow, several families in Pennsylvania are finding that methane has gotten into their drinking water supply. Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection is saying that this is happening due to a nearby Chesapeake Energy fracking operation. Water is leaking out of the frack wells and into the families' water wells, resulting in "black as coal" liquid bubbling up out of their water supplies and flammable gas puddles all over their properties.
The gas drilling industry of course has long maintained that fracking has never been conclusively linked to water supply contamination. Technically this is true, in that it's never been conclusively documented that when the fracking chemicals are shot deep into the ground to break up the shale rock they and the gas then seep back up into the water supply. However, the problem is much more simple. The pipes that are used to transport the gas from the well often have leaks which allow methane gas to escape.
According to NPR: "A shoddy cement job is usually what's to blame. Gas wells are lined by a series of steel pipes surrounded by cement. And if the cement pour is rushed or poorly done, methane is going to get out of the well and into the ground."
In 2009, Chesapeake Energy was fined $900,000 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for contaminating 16 families' water supplies in the same northeast Pennsylvania county where the contaminated water is being found now. This was the largest environmental penalty in Pennsylvania history.
Supposedly since then Pennsylvania regulators have enacted tougher standards requiring higher quality cement and pipes. However, as the NPR story points out, "it only takes one small hole, or one faulty piece of equipment, or one weak chunk of cement, to create problems on the surface."
The danger to the families whose drinking water supplies have been ruined by fracking goes beyond just that. In a letter to both families detailing test results and preliminary findings, state regulators wrote that "there is a physical danger of fire or explosion due to the migration of natural gas water wells."
Chesapeake's response is that they've installed ventilation systems at the familes' wells, but the letter warns that "it is not possible to completely eliminate the hazards of having natural gas in your water supply by simply venting your well."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Hans Nicholas Jong
The Indonesian government has backed down from a decision to scrap its timber legality verification process for wood export, amid criticism from activists and the prospect of being shut out of the lucrative European market.
Viruses, pollution and warming ocean temperatures have plagued corals in recent years. The onslaught of abuse has caused mass bleaching events and threatened the long-term survival of many ocean species. While corals have little chance of surviving through a mass bleaching, a new study found that when corals turn a vibrant neon color, it's in a last-ditch effort to survive, as CBS News reported.
- Coral Reef Tipping Point: 'Near-Annual' Bleaching May Occur ... ›
- Coral in Crisis: Can Replanting Efforts Halt Reefs' Death Spiral ... ›
- 2020 Great Barrier Reef Bleaching Event Is Most Widespread to Date ›
During summer in central New York, residents often enjoy a refreshing dip in the region's peaceful lakes.
But sometimes swimming is off-limits because of algae blooms that can make people sick.
- Algal Blooms Can be Deadly to Your Dogs - EcoWatch ›
- Every Mississippi Beach Is Closed Due to Toxic Algae - EcoWatch ›
- Toxic Algal Blooms Connected to Climate Change and Industrial ... ›
More than 40 million doctors and nurses are in, and they are prescribing a green recovery from the economic devastation caused by the new coronavirus.
- A 'Green Stimulus' Could Battle Three Crises: Coronavirus ... ›
- German Business Leaders Call for Climate Action With COVID-19 ... ›
- Canadian Groups Fight for a Just Covid-19 Recovery - EcoWatch ›
The U.K. government has proposed delaying the annual international climate negotiations for a full year after its original date to November 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
By Jared Kaufman
Upcycled food is now an officially defined term, which advocates say will encourage broader consumer and industry support for products that help reduce food waste. Upcycling—transforming ingredients that would have been wasted into edible food products—has been gaining ground in alternative food movements for several years but had never been officially defined.
- Chefs Are Going Back to Their Roots for Local, Sustainable Foraged ... ›
- This Montreal Company Turns Juice Pulp Into Food - EcoWatch ›
How to Lower Your Coronavirus Risk While Eating Out: Restaurant Advice From an Infectious Disease Expert
By Thomas A. Russo
As restaurants and bars reopen to the public, it's important to realize that eating out will increase your risk of exposure to the new coronavirus.
- Why Wear Face Masks in Public? Here's What the Research Shows ... ›
- How to Stay Healthy at Home During the Coronavirus Lockdown ... ›
- How Do You Stay Safe Now That States Are Reopening? - EcoWatch ›