Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Report: Companies Used Harmful Fracking Chemicals

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Report: Companies Used Harmful Fracking Chemicals

Article excerpt

Companies engaged in fracking in Kansas used chemicals that can cause cancer to extract gas in four wells, the Environmental Integrity Project alleged in a report that has been disputed by industry officials.

The report, released Wednesday, examined the use of diesel, kerosene and similar hydrocarbons in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Industry representatives questioned the report's premise and said it showed no evidence of harm to human health.

Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break up rock formations and release natural gas. It is an important factor in the surge of natural gas production in the U.S. over the past few years, but it also has raised concerns about groundwater contamination.

Mary Green, author of the report, said 351 wells in 12 states used diesel without a water quality permit between 2011 and July 2014. She said chemicals within diesel have been identified as causing cancer and damage to the nervous system.

"This is first and foremost a public health issue," she said.

Katie Brown, a spokeswoman for Energy in Depth, a program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the industry has adequate safeguards to protect public health, and that many of the wells actually used kerosene, which didn't require a permit at the time. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency later issued a guiding statement that kerosene should be considered a form of diesel, and companies that want to use it should seek a permit.

"There has never been a single case of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing, whether diesel fuel was used or not," she said in a written response. "This would be like if officials reduced the speed limit, and then accused drivers of speeding because of how fast they drove before the change. …

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