A Huge Fracking Mess

frackingContamination of the drinking water supply. Air pollution. Land irreparably damaged. And devastating health problems. Please help us stop the madness and remove the Halliburton Loophole with our new Action Alert.
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a method of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand, and 596 different proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.
The safety record that hydraulic fracturing has amassed to date is deeply disturbing. It creates widespread environmental degradation as shown in this video. Fracking in the Susquehanna River Valley in Pennsylvania has ruined a bucolic landscape. Landowners who thought they were at least making money from it are seeing their land values plummet.
The water used for the fracking is being taken from the Susquehanna itself, and who knows what the long-term consequences of that might be. Moreover, fracking also pollutes nearby drinking water aquifers.
Fracking has been used for over 60 years in more than one million wells. Up to eight million gallons of water may be used in each frack. And each well may be fracked up to eighteen times. The water used in the process is thoroughly contaminated, and must be cleaned and disposed of.
Most states require drillers to get rid of fracking liquid by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep. But not all states have such disposal restrictions.
The American Natural Gas Alliance says fracking occurs thousands of feet below the water table, far from the drinking water and when the wells do pass through the water table, companies protect the water by lining the wells with concrete and steel casing.
It’s true that the average natural gas well is up to 8,000 feet deep, while drinking water aquifers are about 1,000 feet deep. But the concrete and steel casings are frequently not strong enough to sustain the tremendous pressures being used, and they leak natural gas as well as fracking fluid into water wells.
In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress to make sure we have clean drinking water which is free from both natural and man-made contaminates. In 2005, the Bush Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. For each frack, 80 to 300 tons of chemicals may be used, though the Bush/Cheney Energy provision exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. This is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.
Scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, which even in low levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness, and in high concentrations can cause leukemia and death. The American Petroleum Institute stated in 1948 that “it is generally considered that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero.” The water is also often laden with barium, which is found in underground ore deposits and can cause high blood pressure, breathing difficulties, muscle weakness, swelling of the brain, and kidney damage; radium, a naturally occurring radioactive (and carcinogenic) substance; and strontium,  which is necessary in trace amounts for bone development, but in too large amounts can disrupt it and cause cancer.
And of course, many times Western medicine doesn’t recognize chemical burden as the underlying cause of so many of our diseases. Integrative medicine physicians get it, but when chemical dumping and related disease epidemics are so rarely in the mainstream news, it’s difficult to make the public aware of these issues.
Perhaps the tide is turning on that score. Last December the Washington Post noted that hexavalent chromium, the carcinogen made famous by the film Erin Brockovich, has been found in the drinking water of 35 cities across the US, including Washington, DC.
And last month, the Huffington Post reported that Pennsylvania is allowing the dumping of the polluted fracking waters into public waterways. In 2009 and part of 2010, energy company Cabot Oil & Gas trucked more than 44,000 barrels of well wastewater to a treatment facility in Hatfield Township, a Philadelphia suburb. Those liquids were ultimately discharged into a creek that provides drinking water to seventeen municipalities with more than 300,000 residents. The water is treated, but at least 3.6 million barrels of the waste were sent to treatment plants that empty directly into rivers during the twelve months ending June 30, according to state records. And even after a treatment plant has finished processing the wastewater, there is still enough polluted water to cover a square mile in more than 8½ inches of brine.
This was not the first such dumping by Cabot. Vanity Fair reports that in 2008, one Pennsylvania family who lived less than 1,000 feet away from a fracking site, could feel the earth beneath their home shake whenever the well was fracked. Within a month, their water had turned brown. It was so corrosive that it scarred dishes in their dishwasher and stained their laundry. While they did not drink the water at this point, they continued to use it for other purposes for a full year. “It was so bad sometimes that my daughter would be in the shower in the morning, and she’d have to get out of the shower and lay on the floor” because of the dizzying effect the chemicals in the water had on her, according to the homeowner, “and my son had sores up and down his legs from the water.” Everyone in the family experienced frequent headaches and dizziness.
The fracking process also pollutes the air. The natural gas that is released is wet—it is mixed with the water, and must be separated from the wastewater on the surface. Evaporators and condensate tanks steam off VOCs, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The wastewater is then trucked to water treatment facilities. As the VOCs are evaporated and come into contact with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators at the well site, ground-level ozone is produced. Ozone plumes can travel up to 250 miles.
Cabot says that they have stopped disposing of their wastewater and are recycling 100% of it to be reused in other fracks. Other drillers are beginning to follow suit, and John Hanger, secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, said he believed that the amount of drilling wastewater being recycled is now about 70%—an achievement he credits to tighter state regulation pushing the industry to change its ways—but that new figures won’t be available until later this year.
Filmmaker Josh Fox has made an HBO-produced documentary called Gasland, which Variety calls “one of the most effective and expressive environmental films of recent years.” Nominated for an Academy Award and lauded by film festivals nationwide, including Sundance, the film follows Fox on a twenty-four-state investigation of the environmental effects of fracking. What he uncovers is mind-boggling: tap water so contaminated it can be set on fire right out of the tap; chronically ill residents with similar symptoms in drilling areas across the country; and huge pools of toxic waste that kill livestock and vegetation.
The natural gas industry isn’t going to take all this bad publicity without fighting back. Energy in Depth, a public relations group representing oil and natural gas producers, sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences arguing that Gasland should be ineligible for a Best Documentary Feature award because it contains inaccuracies, calling it “an expression of stylized fiction.”
Industries that find themselves under a documentary’s magnifying glass will often go on the counterattack in an attempt to improve their image. But this is the first time a direct appeal was made by an industry to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences regarding a nominee for an Academy Award—despite the fact that the filmmaker has abundant evidence for each statement in the film.
Energy in Depth, an association of natural gas and oil producers, says on its own website that 0.5% of fracking fluid contains various acids, salts, petroleum distillates, sterilizers, oxygen removers, antifreeze, and ingredients usually found in glass cleaners, hair coloring, and antiperspirants. That’s anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 gallons of pure chemicals pumped into the ground per well. The EPA notes that there were 603 rigs drilling horizontal wells in June 2010, more than twice as many as were operating a year earlier.
Yes, the U.S. does need to become more energy independent. Yes, we have a lot of gas rich shale. And, yes, natural gas is far less polluting than other fossil fuels when burned.
But as fracking continues to boom, environmental advocates and natural health advocates must join together to fight it. What is toxic to the environment is toxic to our bodies, and vice versa. We should at the very least know what chemicals are being used.
The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, also known as the FRAC Act, was a bill introduced in both the House and the Senate during the previous Congress. It was intended to repeal the Halliburton Loophole and require the natural gas industry to disclose the chemicals they use. This bill never became law, and at the end of each session all proposed bills and resolutions that haven’t passed are cleared from the books.
Please write to your senators and representative, and ask them to re-introduce the FRAC Act in this session of Congress—and pass it into law!


Click THIS LINK to go to the Action Alert page. Once there, fill out the form with your name and address, etc., and customize your letter. We have a suggested message for you, but please feel free to add your own comments to the letter.
We’d also love to hear your comments about this article—just add your thoughts below—but remember that the messages below are only seen by our ANH-USA readers and not Congress.


  1. Fascinating article and very eye-opening.
    I am in total agreement that there should be a FRAC Act as we are entitled to know what is in the water we drink. What is wrong with operating openly, honestly, and with transparency?
    I fully appreciate your advocacy in this matter. Thank you.

  2. Our Declaration of Indepence called Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness an inalienable right. We cannot have life without clean water. Many of the chemicals used in fracking can contaminate drinking water and effecting our inalienable rights. Please close the Haliburton loophole as clean water is required by all life on this planet.

  3. Fracking isn’t the only ongoing atrocity. Aerial spraying is contaminating the earth and all life on it. All attacks on the environment and all life need to stop and those committing and perpetrating this terrorism need to be brought to justice. It is all done in the name of power and greed.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. When we follow the money trail we find that the industry has bought the lawmakers with huge contributions, intense lobbying, and other perks. I have friends that live in the San Juan gas fields and their farm is dying off with their children. This is criminal and will take revolutions such as we are currently seeing in the world. We are a nation of We the Government for the wealthy, by the wealthy. The constitution is no longer followed. May God have mercy on their souls.

  4. Our country doesn’t need any more environment defiling energy. We need to cultivate renewables.

  5. I have a gas lease and I think its great for our local economy. We now have local jobs.
    While most of this process is mechanical. I’m very dismayed with the chemicals they are using.. If they are on the ones listed. If they are using these chemicals, I think its time they tried to use the least harsh chemicals and start there.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if they could substitute a lot of these chemicals with something that’s much less harmful but still does the job. Something that would eventually break down into something non-toxic, I believe is out there.
    I personally with be pushing for using safer chemical alternatives, and I would help support anyone with safer chemical solutions.

  6. I just read that fracking is going to be our ticket to cheaper oil. If it’s dangerous for producing natural gas, stands to reason it’s also dangerous for oil.

  7. Unbelieveable!, that these practices are still allowed in America. Lobbyists are obviously shelling out big bucks to buy off members of congress and tel them to look the other way.

  8. Hello,
    I must say that with the massive chemical onslaught in our lives increasing, it is safe to assume that health care costs will increase accordingly. I just don’t understand why the Federal ‘left hand’ doesn’t know what the Federal ‘right hand’ is doing?!* If they stop pollution then health care problems will decrease???? Isn’t that money in the bank? We little people know how to budget our accounts and protect our families’ health & well being. I pray & vote that a new generation in Washington will someday soon have our same common sense and an integrity-before-greed attitude – before the planet says it is too late!
    Thanks for listening.
    Sincerely, Denice

  9. Sure, disposing of contaminated waste thousands of feet deep underground is perfectly safe!!! That is the same crap that Halliburton told us about the well involved in the Gulf oil spill… “It’s so deep that it will never contaminate anything!!!” The results are well known. Are we to allow them to pollute our drinking and irrigation water too? I don’t think so!

  10. Tuesday, 2/22/11. When sending a letter to our congressmen via your Action Alert page, is that sent by email, fax or USPS. Just curious. Thank you.

    1. In general (including this issue) letters sent through our action alerts are delivered via email. Occasionally, we gather signatures for a letter and deliver them via courier to an office in person.

  11. What does it take for Congress to protect our lives? For the price of natural gas, which isn’t any lower in cost than the other utilities, we are allowing big corporations to once again rape and pillage our health and our environments. This needs to stop. We need to hold these large corporations accountable for destroying our lives and our world for a buck.

  12. This is exactly the kind of issue that President Obama is more than happy to betray us on. There isn’t one single example of the President doing the right thing when it comes to the environment, civil liberties, compassion for the poor and the sick and on and on. The one slim hope we have is the few democratic senators who are willing to stand by those who elected them. Oregon’s Senator Merkley is one good example. Its getting harder and harder to name others in his class.
    The only hope that progressive voters have is to unite as a block of voters. We have to join together in some way that allows us to get a head count. When we know how many we are, we can then start bargaining with democrats. Without progressive votes, democrats don’t win elections. Period. We have to be willing to trade our combined votes for action on our issues.
    Until we do this we will NEVER see our issues addressed. The democrats deal with us by making stirring speeches that lead us to believe that they’ll fight for what we believe in. We then vote for them, making the difference between winning and losing. Once elected, they stop taking our calls and forget to answer our messages. When we complain about being betrayed, they insult us and make the “living in the real world” argument. As the next election approaches, the insults stop and the stirring speeches return. Living in the real world means giving the republican right everything and progressive voters nothing.
    President Obama has been the worst in a long line of bad deals. Like many, I was overjoyed when he took office. I forgot for a minute and actually believed his stirring speeches. It took a very short time to start seeing evidence that he was just more of the same. I guess its a weird subset of prejudice that I expected Obama to be different than most all of his predecessors. I thought that being a member a group that has suffered as badly as black Americans have, that he’d be different. I at one time thought that electing a woman might make the big difference, but Margaret Thatcher showed me otherwise. What Obama has shown is that all races truly are equal. A black president will screw us just as hard and just as shamelessly as any white president has or would.
    We can continue kidding ourselves, but if we truly believe in our causes and truly want to see a better world, we have no choice but to band together as a block and demand that we get action on our issues in return for giving democrats the votes that win elections for them. If we fail to do this we might as well stop kidding ourselves. We might as well drop our causes and abandon our goals, letting the republican right and the Tea Party Fascists call the shots.

  13. While I understand the perceived necessity in getting the natural gas out of the ground, I refuse to accept high-volume, slick water hydrofracking as the method for obtaining it. Hydrofracking has been used for over 50 years. You mean to tell me that, in all that time, no innovation was found that would do the job without poisoning the entire biosphere? Boloney! People who profit from this industry are profiting on the sickness and misery of the citizenry, and we should not lie down and take it!

    1. Unfortunately we will all be laying down because we acted too late and we all will be too sick to fight back.

  14. For short term gain financially, the state, water supply, soil, streams, animals property owners,and humans will be compromised and develop health problems that will cost far more to remedy than any amount of money can correct. This is so shortsighted and dangerous for us all. Don’t sell your souls for these self interested polluters.

  15. I am so glad you are putting this out to your readers/supporters! This is such an important issue. We experienced this first-hand while living in Texas. Chesapeake put up a drilling rig about 600 ft away from our sub-division. We were so close to the rig that we could hear the drilling. Myself and a handful of our neighbors organized and tried to fight them away, but it did not work. We ended up selling our home and moving to CA. Thank you for doing this Action Alert!!
    Vila Pierce

  16. >……and strontium, which can disrupt bone development and may cause cancer.<
    Four landmark studies have been conducted in the last 5 years, uncovering amazing increases in bone mineral density with Strontium supplementation.Strontium is a common element which is naturally found in your bones. Studies show supplementation with Strontium in its various forms is well tolerated and completely safe. Strontium lies directly below calcium on the periodic table of elements and that makes calcium, strontium and magnesium all in the same chemical family. They are all naturally occurring metals found in the soil, in foods, and in your body.As an alkaline earth element, strontium is similar to calcium in its absorption in the gut, incorporation in bone, and elimination from the body through the kidneys. Strontium is naturally present in trace amounts with around 100 micrograms in every gram of bone, so when you supplement with strontium you are simply making more of this element available for incorporation into your bone.Several forms of strontium salt have been used in clinical studies and each strontium salt has had positive results for bone, so it appears that strontium is the active component, and not the carbonate, ranelate, lactate, or citrate part the strontium is attached to.Strontium inhibits bone resorption while simultaneously stimulating bone growth, an exciting double benefit. No other natural substance or drug is known to provide this dual effect. Strontium appears to help reduce dental carries according to a 10 year study sponsored by the US Navy, where residents of a small town had unusually high levels of strontium in the municipal water supply.

  17. This needs to stop! It is not good for us or the environment! We need to just do Solar, Geothermal, and wind power!

    1. I wish to alert everyone on a hazard of geothermal; the release of h2s or hydrogen sulfide. This issue is well hidden and hushed up. My sister worked at the Puna Geothermal ventures plant on the Island of Hawaii where her and her co-workers have been been damaged beyond treatment, with some co-workers mysterious deaths being a likely caused by this continuous release of the gas. It also occurs in oil drilling. The problems were well documented by leading scientists and presented to lawmakers that ignored the dangers. No one seems to care. Just give me electricity and to hell with those who will die horrible deaths from a greedy government owned by the corporations. They have a solution but will not implement it because it would be akin to admitting murder.

  18. As a victim of gas drillining pollution I pray that you remove the Halliburton Loophole. Protect the people, water and air from abuse and those who used power to skirt the law.
    Thank you for helping to create a change for the better.

  19. I live in California. Please give me the telephone number where I can find out the names of our current senator and representative. And the usual dates when the incumbents change. I don’t know who to write to and for what range of time. Thank you.

  20. We have met the ENEMY, and it is US ! ! For goodness sakes, re-introduce the FRAC ACT and pass it. We are not only poisoning ourselves but the FUTURE.

  21. How can this have been going on for 60+ years without strict regulation. Glad to hear it is finally getting the attention it deserves.

  22. I like this website, it is very informative. This fracking article leaves me feeling depressed. You just get weary and feel like everything is contaminated. I am sick at heart for my grandkids. We are leaving them an earth so polluted, I fear they won’t even get to grow old. Thanks D. Estes

  23. Helliburton and Big Dick Cheney Corp. should be sentance to prison for life because they don’t care about anybody’s life but their own. there is more to their society than anybody can amagine and it’s all about cover up that this country was built on. Their slogan is don’t tell. That’s the truth as we know it.
    Chris Young

  24. The only sane answer to this fracking beast of a million processes, pumping toxins into our water, air, land, animals, people, is the BAN it nationwide. The FRAC Act is a band aid. Sure, send the email to Congress but fight hard in our community to BAN this process as inherently dangerous. The frenzy to frack is only yet another financial game with people’s lives put on the line across the country and people being made into experiments in PA, without their consent. Ban it.

  25. Fracking is a liability to the environment and our water supply. We shouldn’t pit short term gains against the environment!!!

  26. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, in depth. I will definitely act on your Alert request.

  27. I like the way this article was written. It seems very factual and is written in a smooth easy to understand way.

  28. You have no right to poison us. For God’s sake man, get a grip on life not on greed and the
    almighty $!!

    1. Hey someone else knows about this. I just watched a documentary that showed this plainly. Their only agenda is he who dies with all the money wins. They are committing suicide.

  29. For god’s sake, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!! The people and the planet have suffered too much already. STOP THE MADNESS!!

  30. Well do you want new energy or not…find ways to get it healthy and safe but lets keep going forward to make our nation self suficient!! There are way and we HAVE to do it or perish another way…no matter; we all are going to have to sacrifice, cut back and do whatever we have to do to survie what is ahead…it is not going to be nice folks, because the dye has been cast and we are in a mess all the way around……hold up youir stiff patriotic chin and forge on!!!!!

  31. Hydrofracking is, despite the so called energy advantages , is not safe enough to continue because it destroys the environment and wildlife and who cares about energy if everybody is too sick to apprecate it od use it. There is no advantage to developing more natural gas reserves while there are alternatives in wind and solar.

  32. They are getting ready to do this fracking in Virginia near where my family lives. Please stop
    this, as I know my Granddaughters health will be harmed.

  33. Is there more information, with from known, qualified sources?
    I prefer to read as much as possible from trusted, objective sources before really committing myself completely.
    Many thanks,
    diane freeman

  34. Well ,I cannot believe that after all these stages needed in refining this so called natural gas,this gas can actually be sold for a reasonable price.Something is very fishy in this industry,they claim that this is the only way to supply us with the energy we need but without those huge subsidies they could not even compete with true renewables like solar,wind,geothermal.If one wants to expose those polluters it should make all subsidies public whether direct or otherwise.Too much subsidies are afforded to this polluting industry just so that they can line their pockets at the expense of life.It seems that coal,oil,nuclear are sectors that are locked in a fight for their life even though we know that there are many alternatives that are better and cheaper.Maybe one should also focus on energy saving as well given the well known fact that American homes and industry are energy hogs,one American household uses the equivalent energy required for ten European households.

  35. Renewable energy from the sun, wind and water are what we need, not more and more ways to abuse the earth and pollute our environment.

  36. Fracking should not be permitted period! Why can’t our elected officials wake up and subsidize the most abundent resource available. the sun, instead of giving money to the greedy oil companies that could care less about the people of the U.S. and are the most unpatriotic of all by their actions!!!

  37. I do not trust film makers, the Huffington Post, or other such sources that have an agenda to be the most accurate of sources. They do have a tendency to report and stretch only that info that is useful to their cause. I do agree that all mining/drilling techniques used by companies should should require clean up of their waste. But the techniques should not be banned completely. Until alternative energy sources are found and do not need tax payer subsidies to continue, we must look at all available sources.


  39. this article is great! It just scares me to death to think what is occurring around the country to our drinking water. Thank you so much.

  40. Great article, I learn alot from your website. Keep up the good work.
    These gas companies are polluting and getting away with it. People
    are getting sick and these companies don’t take responsibility for it.

  41. No more loopholes for these big businesses that care only about their bottom line and not the country’s health.

  42. Here is a story just found on the dangers of drilling and messing with the earth.
    There are many other dangers of drilling into the earth that are taking their toll such as the release of the deadly H2S (Hydrogen Sulfide), earthquakes, and other chemicals that should remain where they are. I am personally seeing deaths occurring from big money energy interests disregard for the well being of the flora and fauna of this earth. Thank you for your work and I encourage everyone that follows this site to inform anyone who will listen and act. Time is running out fast.

  43. The night I first saw Gasland I was horror struck! It is so hard to comprehend that corporate profit is justified as they destroy Mother Earth, human life, animal life, plant life. With all the marvels of modern technology there must be a better way. I am thankful for this excellent article too. I’ll be sharing it along and doing what I can to increase awareness and activism.
    Also, NY State is considering this practice in one of our largest watersheds in the south eastern section of our state. I am horrified!

  44. This article is pure fear mongering…I’ve been around Fracing for the last 20 years and have never heard anyone complain about problems with drinking water or anything else. Your picture showing water(blue) under the Fraced area is desceiving also. These wells are drilled well below the water table.Further, there is water purifcation systems if a true problem ever exists.Well ,I’m horrified that the USA will continue to send money overseas to people who hate us to get their oil.

    1. Would you like to tell me how the water purification systems can quicken the radioactive decay process? I’ll tell you how it is done. You put the water in barrels and bury it in the ground. There is nothing else you can do to it in order to make it safe to drink.

    2. I have spoken to several chemical engineers on Fracking!! Fracking causes man made earthquakes, contaiminates water supply and is damaging this planet!! Fracking began in the late 40’s Kansas. Now we are seeing the results (very sad but true). Man will destroy man (follow the money syndrome) lobbyists. Corportions by the government and for the corp. Mother Earth cannot be controlled and manipulated, however, mother earth needs to balance itself at the hand’s of man’s abuse (greed)!!! God Bless mother earth and God Bless the american people (the end) Let’s protect the future generations and follow “Canada” FRACKING HAS BEEN BANNED!! AWARENESS???

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