US EPA report links fracking to groundwater contamination

Dishwashing Liquid, Toilet Bowl CleanerIt’s easy to take for granted, but clean drinking water is essential. Warnings of groundwater pollution from non-eco-friendly industrial liquids are alarming for residents living in affected areas. A damning US report has this month linked coal seam gas mining to groundwater contamination.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has found a likely link between groundwater pollution and chemicals used in fracking.

It announced in December that compounds associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) – the process of forcing water, sand and chemicals deep underground to release methane – had contaminated groundwater in Wyoming.

Residents in Pavillion in the mid-western US state claim their water wells ‘reek of chemicals’.

The announcement has been welcomed by green revolution proponents and strengthens claims by environmentalists that coal seam gas mining was not environmentally friendly. A liquid cocktail containing chemical compounds is used to extract gas during the controversial mining process.

While the US EPA’s findings were not conclusive they have put a strong dent in the arguments that the depth of the fracking process would keep contaminants separate from drinking water supplies.

Gas and oil mining operations are not the only threat to the safety of groundwater plaguing the environment. Cleaning products and industrial chemicals (such as radiator cleaner, rubber removers and other non-eco-friendly liquid products) continue to cause contamination concerns across the country.

Adelaide car plant

Residents living near a major car manufacturing plant in Adelaide’s northern suburbs were advised this year not to draw water from the underground aquifer. The EPA said chemicals from the Holden factory had contaminated groundwater about 20 metres below the surface.

The car giant said it believed chemicals involved in manufacturing and non-environmental cleaning products were likely to have caused the contamination. Both Holden and the EPA agreed it was likely the contamination was a result of past practices prior to 1995.

Perth landfill site

Landfill chemicals contaminated groundwater into two Perth suburbs near the city’s Mirrabooka dump.

Testing of bore water near the site found it had been contaminated by arsenic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Residents were warned not to use bore water for drinking, cooking or to fill swimming pools.

US findings that chemical compounds used in fracking are likely to have contaminated groundwater will send an ominous warning to Queensland and NSW communities affected by the gas mining process. It’s a reminder of the threats posed by toxic chemicals.

Perth-based environmental cleaning products company Envirosafe Solutions remains committed to finding non-toxic alternatives for the mining and industrial sectors. Its Extreme Green range of products is designed to biodegrade to reduce soil and water contamination. For more information contact Envirosafe Solutions’ on 1300 88 90 70 or email