The state of Oklahoma has been home to fracking operations for decades, long before any of the dangers that we now know fracking were brought to light. Thanks to the boom that’s taken place in fracking in the last decade, the state is becoming a fracking train wreck. Mike Papantonio, host of America’s Lawyer, discusses this.
One of the biggest problems with the fracking process is that we still to this day don’t know what’s being pumped in the ground. It’s their big secret and they refuse to share that secret.
Traces of diesel fuel, benzene, countless of other dangerous chemicals have been found in fracking wells and wastewater injection wells. They’re components that have been known to set tap water on fire in people’s homes. That’s how bad this stuff is, but for now we aren’t allowed to know the full list of chemicals that natural gas companies are pumping into the earth because of something called the Halliburton Loophole which allows companies to keep the list of more than 600 chemicals used in fracking wells a secret from the American public.
While those chemical cocktails are very real, they’re a very real threat to the public health, other dangers from fracking are coming to light in the form of earthquakes. In states like Oklahoma, where fracking has been happening at a fevered pitch, they’re experiencing an epidemic of earthquakes near fracking wells. The Journal Science, for example, reported in July 2014 that a recent spike in seismic activity known as the Jones Swarm that occurred in Oklahoma between 2008 and 2013 was caused by increasing wastewater injection from drilling activities like fracking.
When the volatile mix of chemicals and water were forcibly pushed in the earth, it created the perfect conditions for earthquakes, both large and small, to rock parts of the entire state. These wells were pumping more than 4 million gallons of wastewater back into the earth every month but there’s still a very important distinction to make. The act of fracking itself is not the cause of these earthquakes. It’s the injection of the wastewater from fracking that’s been linked to the earthquakes.
These numbers of earthquakes, they didn’t begin until fracking boom took place in Oklahoma. To put it into perspective, in the year 2008, right before the major fracking boom in Oklahoma, there were only two earthquakes recorded at a magnitude of 3.0 or greater. Last year, there were 616. The link between fracking wastewater wells and earthquakes has been established by several independent studies but the most important study linked to what was really happening was the US geological study that concluded that yes, these injection wells are the cause of spikes and earthquakes in Oklahoma.
They were clear about it. It was the cause, and the natural gas industry has been well-aware of these studies for some time. In fact, they became such a problem fro frackers that they actually toyed around with the idea of paying off scientists, bribing scientists to publish studies saying there’s no link between fracking and earthquakes. As these earthquakes occur, they damage property, land and other assets of the people who live in those areas and those damages are now causing massive legal headaches for the industry, thank goodness.