Dunn County fracking: 1 year since EPA studyThe Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing information from nine oil and gas companies for its study of the impact of fracking on drinking water at the request of Congress a year ago this week.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
The Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing information from nine oil and gas companies for its study of the impact of fracking on drinking water at the request of Congress a year ago this week.
Letters were sent to the companies in August asking for information on the construction, design and operation practices of wells, including wells in Killdeer and Dunn County.
Dunn County commissioners say they have not heard from anyone at the EPA about the study since it started. However, they are not concerned that the county’s drinking water is unsafe because of drilling.
Rather, they agree the bigger issue is that demand for water in the county is greater than the supply.
“Yes, our drinking water is all right to drink,” said Dunn County Commission Chairman Glenn Eckelberg about the drinking water at his home on Second Ave. NW in Killdeer. “We’re right in the middle of the drilling here and our water has passed all of the tests, although it does have a smell to it.
“It’s good to drink, as far as the tests that have been run on it show, but our wells don’t produce lot of water anyway.”
Julia Valentine, media contact for the EPA in Washington, D.C., said results will only be revealed once the study is complete.
Oil sites in Dunn County and the Killdeer-area were among seven locations in five states, and the only location in North Dakota, selected to participate in the Congressionally-mandated national study.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of breaking oil and gas-bearing rock with pressurized fluid and sand.
Other locations involved in the study include: Wise and Denton counties in Texas, Bradford, Washington and Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania, Las Animas County in Colorado and DeSoto Parish in Louisiana.
The study has been divided into two groups. Five of the locations, including Dunn County, are participating in the retrospective study that allows the EPA to monitor key aspects of the hydraulic fracturing process over a well’s lifespan.
In the second study — the prospective study — the EPA monitors the hydraulic fracturing process, looking for changes created in the area while fracking is in progress.
The studies should be wrapped up by the end of the year.
Commissioner Donna Scott of Manning said the cities in Dunn County are already required to test the water and she is not aware that anything alarming has been detected, so she expects the EPA’s study to show that water supply is safe to drink.
Commissioner Daryl Dukart of Dunn Center agrees.
“I haven’t heard any complaints about the water, except maybe the lack of water,” he said. “If there was something wrong with the water, I think we would have heard about it from residents before now, so I would assume that the water is fine.”
Commissioners Tim Steffan and Bob Kleemann did not return calls for comment Monday.