The 5 Newsroom has received a few phone calls from locals about how they were concerned their drinking water had somehow been polluted by the fracking that's happening on their property. None of those people wanted to be interviewed, and the drilling company over that fracking site couldn't be reached for comment. But, that prompted us to see what effects fracking has on water.
Does fracking pose a threat to drinking water? That question is shrouded in controversy, especially here in our area where Marcellus drilling is booming.
Advocates say it's safe, but some land owners complain about frequent spills and property damage from drilling companies. That's why one Doddridge County native has been following the fracking progress in our state for years, and she started a website where landowners can go to get information. It's called WV Host Farms.
The website administrator Diane Pitcock said, "What the West Virginia Host Farms program is doing is creating access to the environmental community to come and study Marcellus drilling."
On the website, you'll find pictures that she's taken of alleged damage and spills from drilling companies.
When fracking, water is used to get the gas out from rocks under the ground. That water is supposed to be contained afterwards and recycled. But that water can contain chemicals, mineral salts, and heavy metals among other things, and isn't always recovered, according to her website. That's what can pollute the water.
She says that the laws aren't being followed, and they're not strict enough to protect land owners. But people in the business of oil and gas say laws are tight.
Merl Richards, whose been in the oil and gas business since the 70's and owns Richard's Energy Services, LLC. said, "You record how much water you actually bring on location, you record how much you use for what, and then you have to record how much [water] you've got left over."
Richards also said that the water has to be recycled and cleaned. "It's safe. It's been going on for 60 years."
Pitcock argues that the laws haven't caught up with the evolution of fracking. But, there are laws in place, like the Horizontal Well Act. There's also a list of rules and guidelines on the WV DEP website.
Along with her Host Farms site, she encourages landowners to subscribe to skytruth.org, which monitors all drilling related activity in our area and issues alerts when there's a spill.
Pitcock said, "It gives you the incident report number, it gives you how the spill was reported, it gives you, and it gives you the name of the company involved." She also said that all that information comes from the Environmental Protection Agency.
So, do we need more laws on the matter? "Better regulation, oversight, and better protection for landowners, which we don't have right now," said Pitcock.
Dec 31, 2012 at 9:15 AMSuppose a corporation had put a few million dollars into a project and someone comes along and asks if they are doing anything wrong. Is it reasonable for employees to admit they had? Can you think of a more sure way to get fired?
He said, she said is required for fairness in the media, but you have to use your head in understanding what is going on. It's like "Did you steal my four-wheeler?" You will get only one answer regardless of what happened.