Pennsylvania Finally Reveals Fracking Has Contaminated Drinking Water Hundreds Of Times

   < < Go Back
from Think Progress,

For the first time, Pennsylvania has made public 243 cases of contamination of private drinking wells from oil and gas drilling operations.

As the AP reports, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection posted details about the contamination cases online on Thursday. The cases occurred in 22 counties, with Susquehanna, Tioga, Lycoming, and Bradford counties having the most incidences of contamination.

In some cases, one drilling operation contaminated the water of multiple wells, with water issues resulting from methane gas contamination, wastewater spills, and wells that simply went dry or undrinkable. The move to release the contamination information comes after years of the AP and other news outlets filing lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests from the DEP on water issues related to oil and gas drilling and fracking.

Thomas Au of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club told the AP that the state DEP’s decision to unveil the 243 cases of water contamination was a “step in the right direction.”

Considering Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale boom started six years ago, however, “this is something that should have been made public a long time ago,” Au said.

The release of contamination information also comes about a month after a report from the state’s Inspector General that found that the rapid growth of the state’s gas industry “caught the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) unprepared to effectively administer laws and regulations to protect drinking water and unable to efficiently respond to citizen complaints.”

Pennsylvania has become a battleground state on issues relating to the impact of oil and gas operations, specifically fracking, on health and the environment. Earlier this month, Pennsylvania doctors, nurses, and health policy experts called on the state to investigate claims that the Department of Health tells employees not to talk to residents who come to them with complaints of supposed fracking-related health effects. And water water contamination from fracking and drilling operations has become common, in Pennsylvania and in other states — West Virginia, too, has linked some water complaints to fracking, and according to a 2013 report, chemicals from oil and gas wastewater pits have contaminated water sources in New Mexico at least 421 times.

More From Think Progress: