WATER CONTAMINATION & LOSS
State law allows particular chemicals in frack fluid to be kept secret from the public even though several of the known contents are corrosive, neuro-toxic, and/or carcinogenic.
Drill wells crack and leak sooner or later and the water table and shale formations in central NC are too close to each other, increasing the likelihood that frack fluid will migrate into the ground water and our reservoir (Jordan Lake).
Methane can migrate from fracked fissures and leaky well-casings into ground water, especially because the water and shale formations are too close to each other.
Frack fluid leaches salts, heavy metals, and radioactive elements that can migrate into ground water.
Fracking requires on average four million gallons of water per well and must often be repeated; water supplies are put at risk, especially in drought-prone areas.
Frack “flowback” (wastewater) is often placed in open pits that stink and leak and is often spilled near well sites and in transport. Wastewater can’t be discharged into streams or reservoirs or treated in sewage plants; injecting it into deep wells is associated with earthquakes; recycling it is energy intensive and leaves toxic remains.
Vapors from frack chemicals cause local air pollution hazards.
Methane leaks from well sites; as a greenhouse gas it is 20 times more potent than CO2.
Noise emanates 24/7 from drilling, processing, and trucking operations.
SEISMIC ACTIVITY NEXT TO NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
Fracking and deep-well disposal of its wastewater are linked to earthquakes. Because the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant sits near a fault and is the nation’s largest depository of highly radioactive spent-fuel rods, one sizable quake could cause the release of enough radiation to harm tens of thousands of people.
ADVERSE EFFECTS ON INFRASTRUCTURE, TAXES, AND PROPERTY VALUES
Local costs and taxes for road repairs, public safety, and emergency services go up. The costs usually exceed the taxes on mining companies and on the royalties to property owners with shale-gas leases.
Property values near frack sites can decline, banks can deny or withdraw mortgages, and insurers can deny coverage or claims because fracking operations involve physical hazards, environmental contaminants, noxious odors, offensive sights, and excessive noise that undermine the livability, marketability, and/or health and safety of people and their properties.
Less than 30% of jobs for mining operations go to local workers and those jobs are temporary; revenue is often insufficient for the local costs incurred.
Forced pooling, a right of mining companies, requires property owners who don’t sign gas leases to allow on their land mining operations and the attendant risks.
NC law does not require drillers to restore the land after operations; reclamation costs are the landowners’ responsibility.
Gas leases rarely describe the environmental and other risks to landowners and their properties. Most leases give gas companies broad rights to decide where to down trees, store chemicals, construct roads, and drill.
Leases typically do not require drillers to pay a security deposit to landowners or name them in insurance policies to cover damages from drilling operations. Most leases also allow extension of their duration without landowner approval.
Nondisclosure clauses require leasees to discuss only with leasers the water, land, and other damages that occur with mining operations.
Leases are often sold by gas operators without providing landowners the opportunity to re-negotiate them.
INADEQUACY OF REGULATIONS
Most of the voting members of NC’s Mining and Energy Commission (MEC), which is tasked with formulating the regulations of shale-gas mining, are directly or indirectly associated with mining or energy interests.
The MEC is seeking guidance about regulations mostly from three states (TX, OK, and PA) that have some of the worst records for fracking accidents.
Strong protective regulations can only be as effective as their implementation through regular and rigorous inspections and tough penalties since the mining and energy industries have long records of subverting and violating regulations.
Regulations cannot change the realities of well degradation over time and the close proximity of NC’s shale-gas beds to its groundwater.
Even with some of the strictest fracking regulations in the nation, Colorado has experienced hundreds of cases of ground-water contamination in the past 5 years, some with carcinogens, according to the former Governor.
The EPA study on the safety of fracking, critically important for crafting the regulations in NC, was to be completed in 2012. Now it will be 2014 before a draft report is released; no final report date is given. Moreover, the EPA study does not plan to examine the contamination of water by shale-gas mining.