Ohio Earthquakes Linked To Natural Gas Drilling

BY ON April 2, 2012

Fracking graphic

For months, Ohio’s news has been filled with reports of earthquakes. At first, everyone thought it was exciting. My friends’ Facebook walls and Twitter feeds were filled with comments about when they felt the quake, and how many things moved in their houses. Then we started seeing reports in the news that the earthquakes weren’t just a random geologic happening. I watched the Cleveland news in the morning and there were near daily reports of how the earthquakes were connected to a dramatic increase in hydraulic fracturing.

I put hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking, on my list of things to keep an eye on and soon noticed there was a huge uproar from the people in my town. Our newspaper ran regular articles about the interest a Texas company had in land outside of Mansfield. The plan was to use as a waste well for the fracking fluid from drilling sites in Pennsylvania. At first, people enthusiastically assumed a well would also bring in jobs. Though it will bring in some jobs, a well is also going to bring in dangerous toxins. These toxins will be in our air, our water and our ground. These toxins are not welcome.

Fracking is a hot topic. On one hand, we see jobs and alternate fuel sources. On the other, we can see that during the venting and flaring portion of the fracking process, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) are released. Currently, the EPA has only studied the direct impact on water contamination. Since the water will eventually find its way back into the air, it certainly stands to reason that we will also be breathing in the VOCs and HAPs. Even if it’s not today, we’ll be experiencing the long term effects of natural gas development on our environment soon.

You see, just like the coal-fired power plants, we are seeing the emission of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene connected with natural gas development. Even still, we must consider the engines required to run the pumps that release nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and a host of VOCs. And finally, the sheer volume of vehicular traffic that becomes connected with a well will bring not only emissions of their own, but since these wells are often surrounded by dirt roads, traffic stirs up dust that also impacts the air quality. Given all this information, I don’t know anyone left on the side of the natural gas industry when it comes to putting a waste well in Mansfield.

Air quality can be impacted in so many ways. Those impacts in turn affect our health. Benzene itself is a known carcinogen. Other health risks include eye irritation, headaches and difficulty breathing. Do we need another health crisis in Ohio? No. But what we have here is another reason to stand up and tell Congress we won’t stand for more air pollution!

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Image: GOOD


TOPICS: Air Pollution, Ohio, Pollution