Fracking fluid kills fish in Pennsylvania stream, state enviro officials say

ProPublica Monday reported environmental officials were scrambling to clean up 8,000 gallons of a “potential carcinogen” manufactured by Halliburton and used in a natural gas drilling process called hydraulic fracturing that spilled into a creek near Dimock, Pa.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has been a source of ongoing debate in Colorado, where Garfield County residents say their water wells have been contaminated by undisclosed chemicals contained in solutions of water and sand that are injected into gas wells to free up more gas from tight geological formations.

Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette, D-Denver, has introduced the FRAC Act to bring the process under federal control and require disclosure of proprietary chemicals under the Safe Drinking Water Act, but the oil and gas industry has bitterly opposed the legislation, pointing to a spotless record of virtually no water-contamination cases directly connected to fracking.

U.S. Rep Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., co-sponsored the bill because of the impacts of the gas boom going on in his district, which is part of the massive Marcellus Shale Formation that stretches into northeastern Pennsylvania.

When Hinchey and DeGette introduced the FRAC Act in June, one part-time resident of Dimock, Carolyn Wells, told the Colorado Independent natural gas drilling was destroying the formerly sleepy, rural getaway for residents of New York City and Philadelphia.

“People started leasing their land like crazy during the past two years, without reading the fine print or doing any research on what it means. All they see is dollar signs that they think they will get,” Wells said in June. “I can’t believe people will sacrifice clean air and water for money. Doesn’t do too much good if your environment is toxic or you get cancer.”

ProPublica has reported on previous cases of contamination near Dimock related to drilling operations by Texas-based Cabot Oil and Gas, but the latest spill, blamed on faulty pipe work, resulted in a significant fish kill and other fish “swimming erratically,” according to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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