Quantcast

Fracking Wastewater Spill Kills Rare Fish in KY, Puts Entire Species at Risk

Fracking

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Amy Mall

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently published a peer-reviewed journal article that discusses the results of the investigation into a 2007 fracking wastewater spill in Kentucky.

Fracking wastewater that was being stored in open air pits (a practice that can lead to toxic spills) overflowed into Kentucky's Acorn Fork Creek and left an orange-red substance, contaminating the creek with hydrochloric acid, dissolved minerals and metals, and other contaminants.

Prior to this pollution, the creek was so clean that it was designated an Outstanding State Resource Water. The Creek provides excellent habitat for the Blackside dace, a small colorful minnow protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because it is a threatened species.

State and federal scientists found that the toxic fracking waste "killed virtually all aquatic wildlife in a significant portion of the fork." The dead and distressed fish had developed gill lesions and suffered liver and spleen damage.

Blackside dace experienced significant die off after fracking wastewater spilled into the Acorn Fork Creek.

"Our study is a precautionary tale of how entire populations could be put at risk even with small-scale fluid spills," stated the lead USGS scientist in the investigation.

One of the things that bothers me the most about this case is that the scientists had been alerted to the fish kill "by a local resident." All spills are supposed to be reported—by the oil and gas company—to the National Response Center.

You know how companies have been telling the public for years that frack fluid is mostly water and safe ingredients that are found in your home? The Natural Resources Defense Council also been saying for years that, even diluted, the frack fluid ingredients can be very harmful to health, and this case is just additional evidence.

Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for enforcing the law and levying the largest fine ever for a violation of the ESA in Kentucky. While the fine was only $50,000, it is larger than many other fines paid by the oil and gas industry. Regulators should be imposing the highest penalties allowed under the law to start to create an incentive for the oil and gas industry to stop violating regulations.

This one case illustrates:

  • The unacceptable risk of open air toxic waste pits in the oil and gas industry
  • Why we need safe setbacks so that oil and gas operations are prohibited from being this close to important water sources
  • The toxicity of fracking fluid and wastewater
  • The lack of oil and gas industry accountability when it comes to preventing and reporting dangerous spills of toxic waste

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
——–

Sign the petition today, telling President Obama to enact an immediate fracking moratorium:

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. NIAID / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less