Starting in 2008, ProPublica published stories that found hydraulic fracking had damaged drinking water supplies across the country. The reporting examined how fracking in some cases had dislodged methane, which then seeped into water supplies. In other instances, the reporting showed that chemicals related to oil and gas production through fracking were winding up in drinking water, and that waste water resulting from fracking operations was contaminating water sources.
Many environmentalists hailed the reporting. The gas drilling industry, for its part, pushed back, initially dismissing the accounts as anecdotal at best.
This week, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its latest and most thorough report on fracking’s threat to drinking water, and its findings support ProPublica’s reporting. The EPA report found evidence that fracking has contributed to drinking water contamination — “cases of impact” — in all stages of the process: water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing; spills during the management of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals; injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources; discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water resources; and disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in unlined pits, resulting in contamination of groundwater resources.
In an interview, Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst at the National Resources Defense Council, said the EPA’s report was welcome.
“Many of us have been working on this issue for many years, and industry has repeatedly said that there is no evidence that fracking has contaminated drinking water,” Mall said.
The EPA report comes a year after its initial set of findings set off fierce criticism by environmental advocates and health professionals. That report, issued in 2015, said the agency had found no evidence that fracking had “led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.” Many accused the agency of pulling its punches and adding to confusion among the public. News organizations throughout the U.S. interpreted the EPA’s language to mean it had concluded fracking did not pose a threat to water supplies and public health.
The EPA said in its report this week that the sentence about the lack of evidence of systemic issues had been intentionally removed because the agency’s scientists had “concluded it could not be quantitatively supported.”
“I think one of the concerns about the original document was that the EPA seemed to say that everything was fine,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of earth-system Science at Stanford University. “It’s important that we understand the ways and the cases where things have gone wrong, to keep them from happening elsewhere.”
The EPA’s latest declaration comes as a Trump administration apparently hostile to almost any kind of regulation of fracking prepares to assume office. But those worried about fracking’s implications for the environment have long been discouraged by the lack of consistent and stringent state or federal regulation.
“Because state regulators have not fully investigated cases of drinking water contamination, and because federal regulators have been handcuffed by Congress into how much they can regulate, the Science wasn’t as robust as it should have been,” said Mall, the analyst at NRDC. “It’s a pattern of, the rules are too weak, and the ones that are on the books aren’t enforced enough.”
The more significant impact of a Trump administration, however, may be in limiting the EPA’s appetite for aggressive and continued study. The report issued this week was six years in the making, but made clear there was still much work to be done to better and more comprehensively determine fracking’s impact on the environment, chiefly water supplies.
“It was not possible to calculate or estimate the national frequency of impacts on drinking water resources from activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle or fully characterize the severity of impacts,” the report said.
The Trump administration’s transition team did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment about its position on fracking and the EPA’s final report. Trump’s transition website promises to “unleash an energy revolution” and “streamline the permitting process for all energy projects.” It also says it will “refocus the EPA on its core mission of ensuring clean air, and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans.”
Advocates for hydraulic fracturing argue that the final EPA report is not vastly different from the draft version.
“Anecdotal evidence about localized impacts does not disprove the central thesis, which is that there is no evidence of widespread or systemic impacts,” said Scott Segal, a partner at Bracewell LLP who represents oil and gas developers. “There’s a lot of exaggeration. There’s a lot of mischaracterization of the extent of contamination that’s based on a desire to enhance recovery in tort liability lawsuits.”
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL — A lingering red tide bloom along Florida’s Gulf Coast has resulted in a number of reports of fish kills and respiratory irritations in beachgoers, according to state officials.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released its regular red tide update Monday, Oct. 10, covering the period of Sept. 29 through Oct. 10. The report would have normally been issued on Friday, but was delayed thanks to Hurricane Matthew.
The expanded report shows active red tide in Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. The state noted that fish kills “affecting multiple species have been reported” in all six counties. So have respiratory irritations.
Florida’s Gulf Coast has been dealing with on-again, off-again red tide issues for a few weeks. Red tide is a naturally occurring organism found in Gulf waters. When it accumulates in large amounts, it can kill fish and lead to respiratory irritation in people and animals.
"Last Updated: Saturday, October 01, 2016, 12:34 PM EDT
A suspicious package was discovered Friday night at the Mosaic company headquarters in Hillsborough County.
Suspicious package left at Mosaic headquarters
Initial testing did not show anything dangerous inside
The FBI will be handling the case
Firefighters responding to the scene conducted initial testing on a package, which reportedly came back negative for any dangerous material. The FBI quickly took over though, delivering the package to a lab at USF for further testing.
Mosaic is still dealing with lawsuits regarding the massive sinkhole that opened up last month. The sinkhole is believed to have leaked than 200 million gallons of slightly radioactive water into the ground."
Would all the money in the world ensure there's no threat to the ground water? I guess 2 billion was just a drop in the bucket, because it didn't ensure squat!
Thursday, October 1, 2015 12:53pm
Mosaic Fertilizer, the world's largest phosphate mining company, has agreed to pay nearly $2 billion to settle a federal lawsuit over hazardous waste and to clean up operations at six Florida sites and two in Louisiana, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday.
"The 60 billion pounds of hazardous waste addressed in this case is the largest amount ever covered by a federal or state . . . settlement and will ensure that wastewater at Mosaic's facilities is properly managed and does not pose a threat to groundwater resources," the EPA said.
The EPA had accused Mosaic of improper storage and disposal of waste from the production of phosphoric and sulfuric acids, key components of fertilizers, at Mosaic's facilities in Bartow, New Wales, Mulberry, Riverview, South Pierce and Green Bay in Florida, as well as two sites in Louisiana.
"Mosaic officials apologized Tuesday during a Polk County Commission meeting for not notifying the public sooner about its sinkhole and leak of radioactive waste water.
Sinkhole at plant in Mulberry leaked slightly radioactive water into the ground
200-million plus gallons of the water has flowed from sinkhole in a gypsum stack
Residents opt to have Mosaic test wells by third party
PHOTOS: Phosphate plant sinkhole dumping contaminated water into ground
“On behalf of Mosaic and our nearly 4,000 employees in Florida, we’d like to express our sincere regret that the sinkhole and water recovery operations on our property have caused concerns for the community,” said Walt Precourt, Senior Vice President of Phosphates for Mosaic.
“Our Mosaic team continues to work around the clock to review the situation, and our response to it. We continue to analyze the situation, and our response to it, and we realize we could have done a better job in providing timely information to our neighbors and the broader community. I regret and apologize for not providing information sooner, and am committed to providing regular updates to the public as we move forward.”
Mosaic admitted it made a mistake about not letting the community know about the massive sinkhole on its property sooner. That decision led county commissioners to review their actions, as well.
County commissioner Melony Bell wishes she had gotten more information about how bad the sinkhole was when she received a phone call from Mosaic on Sept. 15.
“If I could’ve done it differently, there should’ve been more communication between Mosaic, Department of Environmental Protection and the county of how do we go out and not alarm the residents but keep them on notice that they need to not drink their water and have their wells checked,“ said Commissioner Bell.
Polk County Commission Chair John Hall said there’s still confusion about whether the county was permitted to tell the public.
“The board of County Commissioners didn’t do any press releases because we’re pre-empted. Florida Department of Environmental Protection has the responsibility for all surface water, including lakes, streams, rivers and our underground, especially when there’s potential for contamination,” explained Commissioner John Hall.
Commissioner Bell said the commission, Mosaic and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection are planning a meeting, so they can discuss protocol and how to prevent this miscommunication from happening again.
“I think this is a learning lesson for all of us,“ Commissioner Bell said.
Since the sinkhole hit national news, Bell said Mosaic is now communicating with her daily. She said her main concern right now is the daily results of citizen’s wells being tested.
Mosaic has maintained that the leaking radioactive water hasn’t left its property. It’s currently pumping the contaminated water out of the Floridian aquifer and into a separate holding well.
The company Environmental Consulting and Technology, Inc. (ECT) is testing wells of citizens in the area, at the expense of Mosaic.