Fracking Can Contaminate Drinking Water
It took nearly a decade, but former EPA scientist Dominic DiGiulio has proved that fracking has polluted groundwater in Wyoming
Former EPA scientist Dominic DiGiulio never gave up.
Eight years ago, people in Pavillion, Wyo., living in the middle of a natural gas basin, complained of a bad taste and smell in their drinking water. U.S. EPA launched an inquiry, helmed by DiGiulio, and preliminary testing suggested that the groundwater contained toxic chemicals.
Then, in 2013, the agency suddenly transferred the investigation to state regulators without publishing a final report.
Now, DiGiulio has done it for them.
He published a comprehensive, peer-reviewed study last week in Environmental Science and Technology that suggests that people’s water wells in Pavillion were contaminated with fracking wastes that are typically stored in unlined pits dug into the ground.
The study also suggests that the entire groundwater resource in the Wind River Basin is contaminated with chemicals linked to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
This production technique, which involves cracking shale rock deep underground to extract oil and gas, is popular in the United States. It’s also controversial. There are thousands of wells across the American West and in California that are vulnerable to the kind of threat documented in the study, DiGiulio said. He is now a research scholar at Stanford University.
“We showed that groundwater contamination occurred as a result of hydraulic fracturing,” DiGiulio said in an interview. “It contaminated the Wind River formation.”