EPA: Diesel and drinking water don't mix
By Gwen Lachelt
July 1, 2011
Your vehicle may run on diesel fuel, but would you put it in your drinking water?
Thanks to Lisa Sumi, our crackerjack science and research advisor, we submitted hard-hitting comments to the EPA this week as part of the agency s process to develop permitting requirements for companies that use diesel in hydraulic fracturing ( fracking ) operations.
In 2005, Congress exempted fracking operations from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act unless fracking fluids contain diesel. Companies are supposed to receive authorization from the EPA if they plan to use diesel in fracturing fluids. But, guess what? Even though a Congressional investigation revealed that companies are using diesel in at least 19 states, no company has ever sought permission to use diesel. They just do it.
What s so bad about diesel fuel? Diesel contains benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals. In some cases, companies are fracking directly into underground sources of drinking water (USDWs). Using industry data, the EPA reports that even in cases where the smallest amounts of diesel were injected, the benzene levels exceeded water quality standards.
Bottom line? EPA must require full disclosure of chemicals used in fracturing operations, prohibit injection of diesel fuels into USDWs and refuse to permit any fracking where benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEXs) exceed drinking water standards.
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