Former PA DEP Head Says Fracking Doesn’t Contaminate Aquifers

Former PA Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger has been known to be a sharp critic of the drilling industry. He minces no words. If he believes drillers have caused a problem, he calls them out. Equally, he doesn’t shy away from defending hydraulic fracturing as the best, and safest, way of mining natural gas. He states outright that Marcellus fracking has never, not once, contaminated a water aquifer with chemicals.

Hanger is quoted extensively in an article on fracking hysteria in today’s New York Post:

Fracking is in many ways less likely to pollute groundwater than are other forms of gas drilling, because it happens so far from the groundwater, with so much rock in between — which isn’t the case with shallower wells and more traditional gas exploration.

“Prior to the Marcellus [exploitation], there have probably been 50 to 150 private water wells, out of more than a million in the state, that have had methane contamination as a result of mistakes in the drilling process — but that has nothing to do with fracking,” Hanger says. “Some in the industry deny that it ever happens, and that is false.

“But frack fluids returning from depth, from 5,000 to 8,000 feet under the ground, to contaminate an aquifer? When the industry says that’s never happened, that has in fact never happened. And fracking has had no impact on the public water supply.”

Hanger points out what he considers the most serious issue with fracking—wastewater disposal:

The real environmental challenge, it turns out, isn’t any exotic concern on fracking, but the age-old problem of disposing of wastewater.

“Drilling wastewater is highly polluted,” says Hanger. But “when the Pennsylvania industry was small, we were dumping drilling wastewater untreated into rivers and streams and hoping that dilution would keep concentrations below levels that would cause damage to aquatic life or drinking water. There is probably less water going untreated into the rivers today than before the first Marcellus well. It’s a success story.”*

Read the rest of this interesting article by clicking below.

*New York Post (Feb 9, 2012) – Facing Frack hysteria