Fracking water contamination a significant concern for Ohio residents

Studies and recent events suggest that fracking may expose Ohio residents to harmful chemicals through groundwater contamination and other means.

New developments in the oil and gas industry have brought various jobs and opportunities to people living near Cleveland. Unfortunately, advances such as fracking have also opened the door to issues such as water contamination and related health consequences. Recent reports and incidents suggest that complications associated with fracking may adversely affect many people in Ohio.

Potential fracking ramifications

The fracking process involves breaking apart rock with a mixture of water, chemicals and sand that is pumped into the ground, according to USA Today. Eventually, some of this water will make its way to the surface, along with heavy metals and radiation from underground, creating a risk of groundwater contamination.

Fracking has progressed significantly in Ohio; in the last four years, more than 660 wells have been drilled, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Since 2010, 6 cases of groundwater contamination associated with drilling or fracking have been confirmed, and another 14 are currently under investigation, according to USA Today. More than 150 groundwater contamination complaints were filed over the same time period.

A recent study from Maryland suggests that fracking may also have adverse effects on air quality and even oil and gas industry workers, according to the Washington Post. Many of the environmental and health effects of this technique are still being studied, even as fracking progresses in Ohio.

Ongoing contamination

A recent incident underscores the potential risk state residents face. On June 28, a fire at a Monroe County well site resulted in fracking chemicals being released into a stream that flows into the Ohio River, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The Ohio River supplies drinking water to various downstream communities.

The chemical spill caused the deaths of over 70,000 fish and other wildlife. Despite this alarming development, state and federal officials from the Environmental Protection Agency did not receive a complete list of the released chemicals for five days. The drilling company only revealed the chemicals used in its proprietary mixes to firefighters and officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Water testing found high levels of salt, chlorides and acetone. Fortunately, the tests did not indicate the presence of the more dangerous fracking chemicals, which include:

  • Ethylene glycol, which can cause kidney damage.
  • Naphthalene, which is a possible human carcinogen.
  • Formaldehyde, which is a probable human carcinogen.

Still, the release of the chemicals and the delayed availability of information revealed that similar incidents could easily expose residents to harmful contaminants.

There are also cases in which fracking may have harmful effects even if accidents do not occur. Unfortunately, as the boom in energy production continues, the effects of fracking may affect many Ohio residents. Anyone who has experienced groundwater contamination, health problems or other issues due to fracking should consider speaking with an experienced attorney about possible legal remedies.

Keywords: fracking, groundwater, contamination