* Hydrofracking in NC – 2.4 Million People at Risk

A report issued by the Southern Environmental Law Center shows that hydrofracking (“fracking”) for natural gas  in North Carolina could impact the water supply of 2.4 million residents.

Here is their wewsite announcemnt and a link to their press release:

New SELC map shows potential impact of hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina

“As the N.C. House of Representatives prepares to vote on whether to fast track fracking and offshore drilling in North Carolina, a map released today by the Southern Environmental Law Center shows that hydraulic fracturing of potential shale gas deposits in the state could directly impact the water supply for 1.1 million people, and an additional 1.3 million people downstream. Read more in the press release.”

In their Case Summary, SELC reports that:

“The North Carolina General Assembly recently passed legislation to study natural gas extraction using a method of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing known as “fracking.” Fracking injects pressurized water, a mixture of chemicals, and sand into rock formations to create cracks through the rock that release gas.

Potential gas formations in the Triassic Basins (map) are underneath or upstream from public drinking water supplies for 2.4 million people in North Carolina, stretching from the densely populated areas of the Triangle through the Sandhills to the South Carolina state line. Other communities downstream withdraw drinking water from the Lumber, Cape Fear, Neuse, and Tar Rivers. A smaller area of the shale occurs along the Dan River in Stokes, Rockingham, Yadkin and Davie Counties.

In other states where fracking has occurred, residents have reported spills and fumes, health problems, contaminated tap water, sick and dying animals, earthquakes, and other problems.

Toxic Injections

The chemicals injected into the ground, of which up to 80 percent may be left behind, may include toxic and dangerous chemicals. A recent report by congressional Democrats listed 750 chemicals and compounds used in fracking by 14 oil and gas service companies from 2005 to 2009. Of those chemicals, 29 chemicals—including benzene and lead—are either known or potentially cancer-causing, or pose other serious risks to human health.

But Congress exempted fracking from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005 after heavy lobbying by oil and gas companies, meaning that companies are not required to disclose their chemical mixtures under federal law. Companies can and do refuse to disclose the chemical mix that they inject into the ground.

Gas and chemicals can stray from the target drilling site. In a 2011 peer-reviewed, scientific study, Duke University scientists found, on average, methane concentrations 17 times above normal in samples taken from water wells near gas drilling sites that involve fracking, a level that experts consider hazardous.

Heavy Water Use

With much of North Carolina in drought, communities are working to conserve their public water supplies so there is enough for drinking and food production. Yet fracking can require 5 million gallons of water for a single well. Where will the water come from to frack? And what happens to the water-chemical mix afterwards?

Caution Needed

Before fracking is allowed in North Carolina, the state should account for the risks encountered in other states where the practice is used. People should have the right to know what chemicals would be injected into public watersheds and how much, and what the short and long-term effects might be on the air we breathe, crops and animals we eat, and water we drink. Based on their research and interactions with homeowners, two Duke scientists identified seven issues to address before fracking is considered in North Carolina. Heeding the warnings from other states is essential to ensure that, if fracking is to move forward in North Carolina, it doesn’t harm public health and the environment.”

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