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Letter: Turner ignores key facts on dangers of fracking

Turner ignores key facts on dangers of fracking

In his March 17 column on energy independence, Douglas Turner ignored the facts about hydrofracking.

Fracking creates a huge volume of toxic waste for which the industry has not established a safe disposal procedure. A million gallons of water containing toxic chemicals, many of them carcinogenic and many of them not divulged to the public because of their proprietary nature, are pumped into each well. The fluid is put under intense pressure in order to create a network of fissures, releasing the gas. Then much of the toxic water is pumped out. In the process, the fracking water may pick up heavy metals and radioactive material.

By some mysterious quirk of nature, what was pumped into the ground classified as “toxic” comes out classified as “industrial waste.” Is it possible that this change was written into the regulations for the convenience of the energy companies in disposing of it through municipal sewage treatment plants, when in fact they cannot do so safely?

Another technical fact that Turner ignores is that fracking increases seismic activity in the vicinity of the wells. This has been known for four decades, since seismologists reported it in the Denver area after deep well injection. Another unresolved problem is the failure of well casings, allowing methane to escape years after a well is closed.

As an engineer, I applaud New York State for taking a prudent position on fracking. The gas trapped underground is not going anywhere. It will be there when the industry develops a safe and efficient means of extracting it. Turner uses the geopolitical and economic issues surrounding energy to whip up our sense of urgency. Those issues aren’t going away either.

William H. Townsend