Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Denver Post Expose On Fracking Wells And Carcinogens Is A Wake Up For Colorado - And Other Fracking States


Fracking operation spewing chemicals near residential area outside Denver

Fracking wells have been an ongoing problem here in Colorado for years and which I have often posted on. (Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure underground to open fissures, making it easier for the oil and gas to flow. Colorado has about 49,850 active oil and gas wells.) The Denver Post's revelations of fracking well horrors and leaking carcinogens yesterday: 

Hazardous “forever chemicals” used in Colorado for fracking, report says

must have set many citizens' teeth on edge besides mine.  According to the piece, the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) said an analysis shows that a class of chemicals called PFAS, or “forever chemicals,” were used in nearly 300 oil and gas wells in the state.   PFAS refers to   polyfluoroalkyls  and "might have been used in many more over the past decade."  

One of the largest PFAS contaminations in Colorado history has been found south of the Springs in the Security-Widefield, Fountain areas.  Residents subjected to a particular sub set of these PFAS chemicals - PFOS,  PFOA, PFHxS and PFHpA-  have been found to suffer a higher incidence of liver, kidney and prostate cancers.   State-backed water testing in the Fountain creek watershed alone has found PFAS at levels ranging from 150 parts per trillion to 1,600 parts per trillion.   These levels would affect more than 50,000 people living south of Colorado Springs.

Besides immediate fracking the chemicals "are also used in advanced oil recovery techniques, to extract useful oil later in a well's life."  Recall I had earlier  posted about the risks from fracking  before, 

  • Newsflash! Fracking's Days Have Been Numbered For...
  • Also in a post from Dec. 17, 2019 where I noted the chief fracking chemicals, included:

    Benzene: a powerful bone-marrow poison (aplastic anemia) associated with leukemia, breast and uterine cancer

    Styrene, which may cause eye and mucous membrane irritation, neurotoxic effects in the central and peripheral nervous systems.

    Toluene, which may cause muscular incoordination, tremors, hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo, emotional instability and delusions, liver and kidney damage, and anemia.

    Xylene, with cancer-causing (mainly in the kidneys, liver) and neurotoxic effects, as well as reproductive abnormalities.

    Methylene chloride, which may cause cancer, liver and kidney damage, central nervous system disorders and COPD.

    Dusty Horwitt, author of “Fracking with ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Colorado,” in a call last Wednesday with Posy reporters,  said that PSR worked with an independent data scientist to analyze the chemicals reported by oil and gas companies on the FracFocus. The database is a national registry managed by two associations of state officials.

    Most alarming of all the Post's revelations, "12,000 Colorado wells whose fracking chemicals were listed as trade secrets on FracFocus from 2011 to 2021, more than 3,200 used 'surfactants,' according to the report."   Horwitt said the substances could have been fluorosurfactants, in the PFAS family and used in fracking in other states.   According to Horwitt:

    "The amount of chemicals in the fracking fluid is typically very small, 1% or less of the fluid. But some of these chemicals can be so toxic that even very small amounts can contaminate large amounts of drinking water and could make people sick if people were exposed.”

    Indeed, Janice now theorizes that at least some of those chemicals may well have triggered my brochiectasis and prostate cancer.  Though I am still not convinced on the latter and suspect my meat eating background may have played a much larger role.

    Anyway, we do know now that: "cracks or gaps in the concrete casing the hole used to drill a well can result in fracking fluids migrating to underground water."  Also, wastewater brought up to the surface might contain the chemicals.

    Horwitt goes on to state: "The potential that people could be exposed and become sick is real,”  

    Noting that "wells are increasingly being drilled near homes and schools."   (See top image)   

    As for the PFAS chemicals — per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances — they have been widely used for decades by all kinds of industries for their ability to repel water and resist heat, stains and grease. The chemicals are used in firefighting foam, food packaging, waterproof coats and carpets. The synthesized substances are called “forever chemicals” because they can survive hundreds of years in the environment. 

    The Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that PFAS levels in drinking water not exceed 70 parts per trillion, but there are few restrictions on their use, according to Sonya Lunder, the Boulder-based senior toxics policy adviser for the Sierra Club.

    Meanwhile, new EPA Administrator Michael Regan has said he’ll “use every tool in the toolbox to regulate PFAS,” But Ms. Lunder expects it to be years before safeguards are put in place.   A 2021 report by Physicians for Social Responsibility said PFAS had been used in 1,200 oil and gas wells in six states: Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Wyoming. Because some states don’t require companies to list the chemicals they use on FracFocus, the organization said the use of PFAS is likely far more widespread than the database indicates.  

    Why am I not surprised by the under reporting?  The Post piece claims: "The director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission can reject a request to keep the chemicals’ makeup secret and can require the information to protect public health and the environment."

    Then why has the Commission not acted to require the info be made public?  Maybe for the same reason the corporate honchos absolutely refuse to label GMO foods.

    See Also:

    by Joshua Cho | October 25, 2020 - 5:53am | permalink

    — from OtherWords


    Whenever there are discussions about banning fracking, media coverage seems to prioritize potential “risks” to Democrats’ electoral prospects, or potential economic downturns. Unfortunately, a lot of this coverage is quite sloppy.

    For instance, the New York Times quoted absurd claims that a fracking ban would mean “hundreds of thousands” of Pennsylvanians would be “unemployed overnight.” In reality, about 26,000 people work in all of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas sector.

    Still, the Times suggested that any presidential candidate who supports a national fracking ban would risk losing Pennsylvania, calling the issue “a political bet.” A fracking ban “could jeopardize any presidential candidate’s chances of winning this most critical of battleground states — and thus the presidency itself,” the paper wrote.

    NPR likewise made dubious pronouncements on the opinions of swing-state voters the focal point of the story, reporting that “aggressive” climate action “could push moderate voters in key swing states to reelect President Trump,” and even cited — without rebuttal — a claim from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that a fracking ban would eliminate 17 percent of all U.S. jobs.

    No comments: