There are about 30,000 wells using fracking in many of the states of United Stated. Fracking injects water and chemical deep down into the underground of the earth using high pressure to crack shale rocks and extract oil and gas. This led to an incredible boom in oil and gas. However, it also prompted concerns that it is contaminating and affecting the local water supplies.
After a substantial and considerable studies and investigation, the Environment Protection Agency concluded that there are certain fracking activities that can pose as potential risk to drinking water. Although EPA could not find evidence that the risk is widespread and systematic.
Negative Effects of Fracking on the Local Water Supply
- Massive volumes of water is used in fracking and 90% care not returned to the surface. This permanent removal of water affects the natural cycle of water. There will be a decrease of the volume of water in the area where it taken from and naturally, there will be less water supply for the local area. With the strain in the water supply of an area, drought will be prolonged.
- Another issue is the wastewater that is pumped back underground. It is murky and contains chemicals and radioactive materials. They are injected into separate injection wells. I the injection wells are poorly constructed, leaks may happen and it will contaminate the water supply near the injection well.
- If there is not enough injection wells, wastewater is stored in tanks and sent off to treatment plants. After treatment, water is dumped into the river. IF there is improper treatment, the river will be contaminated with chemicals and radioactive materials.
- Fracking uses chemicals pumped with the water into the wells. These chemicals remain underground even when fracking is completed. The presence of these chemicals underground raises fears of long-term contamination of water supply around the area.
- Fracking activities raises the concentration of radon in the area. Radon is an occurring radioactive gas that is formed by the decay of uranium in rock soil and water. Water wells in areas near fracking activities show evidence of high concentration of radon, which is believed to be cancer-causing.
Although EPA has created wastewater regulations, some plants may not be diligently and religiously following those regulations. There has been incidents when wastewater is dumped into rivers without going through treatment. EPA should closely monitor these plants if they are following regulations.