243 cases of drinking water contamination by fracking in Pennyslvania

i Aug 31st 2 Comments by
Fracking water in the USA - fit for drinking?

Fracking water in the USA – fit for drinking?

Six years into a natural gas boom, Pennsylvania has for the first time released details of 243 cases in which companies prospecting for oil or gas were found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking water wells.

The 243 cases, from 2008 to 2014, include some where a single drilling operation impacted multiple water wells. The problems listed in the documents include methane gas contamination, spills of waste water and other pollutants, and wells that went dry or were otherwise undrinkable. Some of the problems were temporary, but the names of landowners were redacted, so it wasn’t clear if the problems were resolved to their satisfaction. Other complaints are still being investigated.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal.

This news will worry anyone in the UK who is close to a fracking site, which is pretty much all of us. We believe that fracking can never be safe, as wells and their casings crack over time and accidents happen during the fracking process. If you value your drinking water, say no to fracking.


  1. Colin
    December 8, 2014 at 11:47


    “private drinking water wells” – so if the water in the UK was contaminated it would still be filtered and cleaned before it ever reached out taps?

    And “safe”. You seem to complain about fracking and the clean water it uses, but don’t mention that most of the water can be recycled and used in other fracking operations. That in the UK there are other sources that use massive amounts more water than fracking in it’s lifetime ever would e.g. framing, live stock, broken pipes, and so on.

    In the US there are 500,000 fracking wells drilled and yet only 1000 or so complaints, most of which are anecdotal. And the fracking sites once it is in full operation are nigh invisible to the passer by!

    The image you used above is not indicative of any pollution from fracking and you are only using it to serve the interest of your campaign.

    The real answer to stop fracking : stop our reliance on oil and gas! Teach people how to reduce their carbon footprints and reduce the energy usage they have in their houses. More solar panels on every roof and wind turbines in the right places will make more of a difference. People don’t need to drive everywhere, but we are force fed that cars are better. Am nearly 40 years old and never learned to drive. I feel that am freer than any of my friends that do drive – it’s certainly a lot cheaper and better for the planet!

    • Chris Redston
      December 29, 2014 at 17:08

      Dear Colin
      Thank you for your comments and apologies for taking so long to put them on our site. As for some of the points you raise, re contamination with fracking fluid, currently it is extremely hard, if not impossible, to clean this so that it can be used as drinking water. And as far as we know, there are no plans for the waste frack water used in fracking operations to be ‘recycled’ in other fracking operations in the UK and if the US is anything to go by, this doesn’t happen very often, and the amounts of fresh water they take from the aquifers and rivers is still so large as to be contributing to droughts, causing water shortages, reducing the height of water in lakes and rivers, etc. In Queensland the Great Artesian Basin is being drained of water for fracking operations at six times the rate at which it can replenish – so not much sign of ‘recycling fracking water’ there.
      Of course, other industries like farming use a lot of water, but there is a crucial difference – water for farming is not removed from the environmental cycle, as it is either taken up by the plants, drains down into the aquifers or evaporates. The millions of gallons of water needed for fracking, when contaminated with the chemicals that are added, is removed permanently from the environment and needs to be disposed of.
      As for the number of complaints, I’m not sure where you get your figures, but you must remember that the population density there is very small and if a farmer has his borehole contaminated – which has happened to hundreds, if not thousands of farmers in the US – then they are quickly approached by the fracking company who promise them trucked-in water only on the condition that they do not make a formal complaint and sign confidentially agreements. And having seen pictures and film of fracking wells I would also dispute the ‘invisible’ claim – and of course you haven’t mentioned the noise, particularly at night, the air pollution, the increase in HGV traffic and road accidents, and many other detrimental aspects of the industry.
      We completely agree with you re solar panels, wind turbines, and that removing our dependence on oil and gas is essential if we are to avoid all sorts of problems in the future, from water pollution to climate change.


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