EARTHWORKS

New USFS study demonstrates fracking waste should be treated as toxic waste

Alan Septoff's avatar
By Alan Septoff

July 7, 2011

Just in time for Friday's hearing on the fracking in National Forests, this came yesterday from our friends at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER):

A new study has found that wastewater from natural gas hydrofracturing in a West Virginia national forest quickly wiped out all ground plants, killed more than half of the trees and caused radical changes in soil chemistry. These results argue for much tighter control over disposal of these fracking fluids, contends Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The new study by Mary Beth Adams, a U.S. Forest Service researcher, appears in the July-August issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Quality. She looked at the effects of land application of fracking fluids on a quarter-acre section of the Fernow Experimental Forest within the Monongahela National Forest.

The explosion of shale gas drilling in the East has the potential to turn large stretches of public lands into lifeless moonscapes, stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that land disposal of fracking fluids is common and in the case of the Fernow was done pursuant to a state permit. This study suggests that these fluids should be treated as toxic waste.

For the past twenty-five years, the Forest Service has not applied any environmental restrictions on private extraction efforts, even in wilderness areas. As a result, forests, like the Monongahela, which sits astride the huge Marcellus Shale gas formation, have struggled with many adverse impacts of widespread drilling.

Links to the study and more information on drilling in National Forests at the PEER website.

Tagged with: waste, natural resources committee, moratorium, hydraulic fracturing, house of representatives, hearing, fracking, forest service

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