High Levels of Benzene Found in Fracking Waste Water
Summary: Fracking is when water mixed with chemicals is forced into underground rocks to release natural gas or oil. Fracking not only uses hundreds of toxic chemicals it also destroys rock and soil formations causing earthquakes. In California fracking mainly occurs in Kern County. In 2013, the state of California ordered tests to be conducted on fracking waste water to determine the possible health effects. The results of these tests showed that there was benzene levels 700 times higher than the federal standards allow. Benzene is a known human carcinogen and this waste water is sometimes put back into the groundwater. The federal Environmental Protection Agency called the state's errors "shocking." The agency's regional director said that California's oil field waste water injection program has been mismanaged and does not comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. State officials blame the error on chaotic recordkeeping and antiquated data collection and they also claim that benzene has not been found in the 9 drinking water wells they have tested. In 2014 self-testing reports showed that 98% of waste water samples taken from 329 fracked oil wells exceeded federal and state water quality standards. However some companies did not comply with reporting requirements and at least 150 reported certain results but didn’t include testing for or did not provide data for benzene in fracking water.
Why This Is An Issue: This event is an injustice because we already have water issues in California. These California oil wells that were tested usually need 10 or more gallons of water to produce each gallon of oil that comes out of the ground. This is a lot of water that may be needed for drinking in the future if the drought continues. Also if the waste water is contaminating our aquifers it is aiding the depletion of our water resources. This directly affects us even though we don’t live right by the wells because if water runs out in one area it puts a lot more pressure on other areas in California. Another possible issue is that if these wells are deemed prosperous there might be future plans where more wells are built affecting the lives of even more people. The main stakeholders in this issue are the people that live around these facilities. It is their water that is being ruined and no one is helping them. Currently the companies are really not being held responsible for the waste water they put back in the ground. And the fact that this has been going on unchecked for a long period of time could be disastrous.
Personal Opinion: I do not think that fracking should be continued anywhere because of the horrible effects it has. We need to stop relying on fossil fuels and focus our efforts more on renewable forms of energy.
Question: What should happen to these wells now that benzene has been found in their waste water?
Cart, Julie. "High Levels of Benzene Found in Fracking Waste Water." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.