“Taste of Fracking” Comes to Charleston

“Don’t drink, cook or even bathe in the water,” I heard the announcer say on public radio tonight. Not something you hear everyday about your tap water. On the drive home from the capitol I stopped as did most everyone else to pick up a case of water. However, most were not buying a case but a shopping cart full, quickly depleting the local supply. A water crisis, who would have thought it on the second day of the WV Legislative session? Not just for Charleston, but for many surrounding counties that WV American Water services.

Today was Transportation Day at the capitol. Many days are “celebrated” by specific policy groups. My favorite is probably “A Taste of West Virginia” when all the State Park resorts and places like Tamarack hold court in the rotunda and share samples of their fine cuisine.

Today, our whole WV Legislature got to share the same “Taste of Fracking” that many rural farm families have gotten from the Marcellus Shale industry. I remember the Jackson Co. couple who called our www.wvsoro.org office several years back. They raised two sons on their farm with fine well water. The same water that started making them sick not long after a Marcellus well was drilled near their home.

After going to the doctor and having their water tested, they were told not to drink the water, or even bathe in it! Their grown sons who were still taking jugs of that good ‘ol farm water back to Ohio homes were also affected. This retired farming couple ended up renting a house on the edge of town and suing the drillers to get their water replaced, if even possible.

Charleston and WV Lawmakers, this is how it feels. This is a “Taste Of Fracking” right here in the capital city. Ironic that the cause was the coal service industry. Maybe both need better monitoring and regulation?

Ok, I grant the argument can be made that the rural wells are isolated problems. The fact is several WV municipal water supplies have already being impacted by Fracking. Fracking fluids are currently making their way into our watersheds by runoff, spills, dumping, “accidents”, leaking holding pits and have spiked certain Safe Drinking Water Standards around the state. One particular component of both the Frack fluid and tailings is Bromine, which combines with the Chorine used to disinfect drinking water to produce cancer causing compounds like organo-chlorides & trihalomethanes (thm’s) that are regulated in drinking water. Municipal sewage plants are now barred from accepting Fracking fluid for treatment partly because the river’s load of these salts was making it hard for the drinking water plants to meet safe water standards.

In addition, Marcellus drilling tailings (solids) are laced with low-level radioactivity, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and God knows what else. We are now rapidly filling up our landfills with this toxic sludge when they were built to hold our household garbage. Where will we put our trash when they’re all filled up with toxic Marcellus mud?

Why are we letting ourselves be the WV guinea pigs for this Fracking experiment when other states have closed loop systems to better contain Fracking excrement, many are better regulated and some even won’t allow it on their dirt until science weighs in on the safety of the whole process?

What’s the rush to drill when there is such a glut of gas in the marketplace already? We need to slow things down, take a deep breath, and make sure we’re not sacrificing our most valuable long-term renewable resource, our clean water, for the quick bucks that the Marcellus promise…

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