That Scientific Confirmation Of Water Contamination From Fracking Isn't What It Seems

For years now anti-fossil fuel activists have been claiming in public protests and films and every other medium you can imagine that fracking – or hydraulic fracturing, the process used in shale oil and gas development – leads to water contamination.

Many now take this as an article of faith. I mean, we all saw that flaming tap water trick, right?

But would you believe that it has taken until May of 2015 for these activists to find what is supposedly the first scientifically verified case of water contamination from fracking?

Don’t take my word for it.

“Researchers using a sensitive chemical analysis say they have found evidence of fracking fluids in well water near a shale gas drilling site in Pennsylvania,” reports Gizmodo, a left-wing technology news site that’s not exactly a bastion of sympathy for fossil fuel energy development, referencing a study from the University of Pennsylvania.

“It’s one of the first scientifically documented cases of fracking fluids seeping into drinking water.”

…would you believe that it has taken until May of 2015 for these activists to find what is supposedly the first scientifically verified case of water contamination from fracking?

But there’s a problem. The water contamination really doesn’t have anything to do with fracking. As Ronald Bailey points out at Reason, the cause of the water contamination was either a 2009 surface leak or a faulty well casing at the intermediate drilling depth where most drinking water comes from.

What didn’t happen is chemicals from the fracking happening thousands of feet under the earth flowing up to where the drinking water resides.

And calling this a contamination is a bit of a stretch. Per the study published by researchers from Pennsylvania State University notes, the contamination “was measured in parts per trillion, [and] was within safety regulations and did not pose a health risk.”

In fact, the contamination was so slight that it could have been caused by household products.  “Although not expected to be significant, release of 2-BE could also result from consumer product use, such as out-door use of liquid cleaners and paints,” the study states.

I’m not sure why they’d say that’s not expected. Can they really just dismiss household products as a possibility?

Regardless, that the anti-fracking activists are so desperate for evidence to prop up their hyperbole that they’d glom on to this meager and inconclusive evidence of “contamination” is telling.

It kind of makes you think like they jumped to a conclusion, and have been searching for the evidence to support it for years.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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