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Dangerous Fracking Operations Inject Diesel Fuel Into Wells

August 15th, 2014

A recent study from Washington-based environmental group found that fracking operations have injected nearly 33,000 gallons of diesel fuel into their wells since 2010, a dangerous practice that can leave toxic fuel in groundwater supplies. The Environment Integrity Project, a group founded by former enforcement attorneys with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, found that Texas fracking operations injected nearly 13,000 gallons of diesel fuel into their wells, while those based in Colorado used more than 9,000 gallons.

How Fracking Operations Work

Hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking”, involves the use of high-pressure fluid injections into underground wells. The pressure from the fluids loosens rock, sediment and other substances surrounding deposits of petroleum and natural gas. The fracking operations allow drillers to access deposits that would not have been attainable using standard drilling methods. The controversy surrounding many fracking operations involves the mixture of water, sand and chemicals used in the injection process that can pollute the surrounding environment.

Diesel Fracking Operations Continue

Since 1997, the EPA has required that fracking operations receive permits to use diesel fuel in their exploration efforts. Many oil and natural gas industry groups limit the use of diesel in their fracking fluids or refrain from its use altogether due to health and safety concerns. However, the EIP study found the 33 companies engaged in fracking operations in 12 states without the proper permits. These operations injected 32,950 gallons of diesel fuels into 351 wells from January 2010 to July 2014.

Dangers of Diesel Fracking Operations

One of the dangers involved in fracking operations that inject diesel into wells is that the fuel can contaminate groundwater supplies. Diesel fuel, like most fossil fuels, contains toxic chemicals, such as benzene and other hydrocarbons. The chemicals in diesel fuel are known to cause health problems ranging from skin rashes to cancer. When the fracking operations inject diesel fuel into their wells, they run the risk of contaminating the surrounding soil and groundwater supplies with these deadly chemicals.

Controversy Surrounding Fracking Operations Study

Oil industry groups are contesting the study’s findings, stating that they followed state regulatory guidelines during their fracking operations. Many of the companies profiled in the report also stated that they used kerosene, not diesel fuel, as an ingredient in the well injections. A spokesperson for one drilling company stated that EPA regulations allowed for the use of kerosene in fracking operations, but the EIP argued that the natures of kerosene and diesel fuel are so similar as makes no difference.

Source: Denver Post

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