EPA fracking study in Killdeer justifiedIt’s undeniable that many oil company employees drink the same water as you and I and that’s why we can only guess that they are doing everything they can to keep what’s coming out of our taps safe. But let’s be sure.
By: Jennifer McBride, The Dickinson Press
It’s undeniable that many oil company employees drink the same water as you and I and that’s why we can only guess that they are doing everything they can to keep what’s coming out of our taps safe. But let’s be sure.
The Environmental Protection Agency has done the right thing by choosing the Killdeer area as one of seven sites across the nation to study the impact of hydraulic fracturing or fracking — using pressurized fluid and sand to break apart gas and oil bearing rock — on drinking water. They made the announcement Thursday
A long-contested process, many oil executives say fracking is safe, many citizens don’t believe so. Congress mandated the study regarding this issue that needs to be addressed.
Water continues to be a hot commodity. Area communities sell gallon upon gallon to companies working in the oilfield. Besides fracking, there are a number of concerns about water in oil-rich areas.
Just think about these situations over the past few months.
On April 2 about 100 barrels of saltwater and five barrels of oil spilled after a pipe ruptured and the substances trickled into Lake Sakakawea, which is a reservoir of the Missouri River basin and a source for drinking water for most North Dakota counties west of the Missouri.
It was recently reported that reserve pits, which are swimming-pool size waste holding areas for a mix of salt, drilling fluids and chemicals, pose some of the largest potential threats to land and water resources.
They are lined with plastic and once drilling is complete, the liquids are pumped down and hauled away, and fly ash is added to solidify what remains.
About 10 percent of the state’s 500 waste ponds were swamped by melt water from one of the area’s snowiest winters. The waste pit breaches came despite regulators’ warnings that they could happen.
North Dakota regulators levied $3 million in fines against 20 companies that failed to protect oilfield waste pits from spring flooding earlier this month.
In May an oil leak at a pipeline pumping station in southeastern North Dakota spilled more than 14,000 gallons of crude.
And it is unclear what recent flooding will do to the state’s water resources.
If we can cross fracking off of our list of processes defiling drinking water, we can move on to other culprits. (Though all functions of oil extraction or any concoction or product that can put water in jeopardy need to be analyzed.)
For now, the EPA will investigate reported instances of drinking water contamination in areas where hydraulic fracturing has occurred in Dunn County. Already-existing reports of contamination should have been scrutinized long ago. If fracking is not the culprit, it’s time to find out what is.
Hopefully the results will calm the nerves of concerned citizens across the country. If not, drastic action will have to be taken.
With so much activity in southwestern North Dakota, authorities need to be vigilant in protecting resources.
Without water, what are we? Without water, there is no we. There is nothing.
McBride is The Dickinson Press managing editor. Email her at email@example.com.