Hydraulic fracking will add a radioactive cocktail to your glass of water

California is one of the most liberal states, a leader in “green thinking” and the nation’s fourth largest oil-producing state, with more than 350 hydraulic fracturing wells stretching from Northern California all the way to Long Beach.

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is the process where gallons of water and chemicals are pumped 8,000 feet underground to create something like a mini earthquake. The pressure from the water and chemicals breaks apart rocks and releases natural gas.

The problem is the aftermath of these chemicals. The mixture of more than 596 chemicals being pumped into the ground contaminates the surrounding water supply and leaches into streams, rivers, lakes and wells. Fracking liquid also contains fracturing fluid additives and naturally occurring radioactive substances. This ultimately poisons drinking water, a limited and diminishing resource.

According to Josh Fox, who made a documentary on hydraulic fracking called “Gasland,” anywhere from 1 to 7 million gallons of water are wasted through this process. We’re mixing up our priorities.

The Environmental Protection Agency aims to ensure that natural gas extraction doesn’t result in harm to citizens. The fracking process produces byproducts with high levels of total dissolved solids, which dissolve into calcium, chlorides, nitrate, phosphorus, iron and sulfur. Water with high levels of TDS are unfit for human consumption.

Why is our government supporting an activity that is this bad for our health?

The fracking process started in New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Colorado. And now it’s moving closer to home. In December, the federal government is scheduled to lease sections of land to oil and gas companies to begin the fracking process from Monterey to San Benito and Fresno counties. This will not only affect the families of our fellow students who live in the fracking area, but it will destroy the land.

I don’t understand why we are constantly taking from the earth and treating it like it’s trash, yet we expect it to survive so we can live off of it. There’s no way.

In 1972, then-President Richard Nixon signed the Clean Water Act, which was a leap of progress in the environmental movement. In 2005, the energy bill pushed through Congress by then-Vice President Dick Cheney exempted the oil and natural gas industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Those industries are also exempt from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the superfund law and multiple other environmental acts.

Since fracking is exempt from these laws, you better believe there will be a bunch of environmental issues to follow.

Would you like to turn on your faucet and see a cloudy substance bubble and fizz in your cup? What if you could light your water on fire? It may sound cool, but it has serious environmental and health repercussions.

Methane, ethylene, ethane and propane, all components of natural gas, have been found in the wells of people whose homes were near fracking sites.

Hydraulic fracking is not only horrible for the environment — it’s disastrous to your health. Those who live in or near Monterey, San Benito and Fresno, do your homework and understand what you’re in for. And if you think you’ve escaped fracking, you’re probably next.

Latest comments
  • The headline of this article gave me some indication as to what to expect sadly. I have read some mis-informed articles in my time but this beats the lot. There have been hundreds of reports/investigations and so on into the use of fracturing and NONE have ever found a proven link between fracturing and contaminated water supply. To refer to ‘Gaslands’ as some form of factual reference is laughable, the film has been proven to be a pack of lies. “Destroy the land” ???? It is just this sort of panic writing that prevents informed debate, I suggest Elissa that you do a modicum of research BEFORE writing in future.

  • The usgs and Epa have tested wells in Pavillion Wyoming and confirmed the source is from hydraulic fracturing fluids. Its all over the news if you care to google for it.

  • This article is fraught with conjecture and misunderstandings, if not misleading statements. In fact it is much more a work of bad fiction and misuses the little facts it contains. Having worked in the oil industry and now a water agency manager, suffice it to say that Wyoming is not North Dakota and fracking of deep oil reservoirs does not involve the same groundwater contamination concerns that fracking of shallow gas shales do. This is scaremongering at its worst; virtually all of us in California have “escaped” fracking and I am confident none of us will be next. My advice to the author would be to utilize some of the excellent resources available to her on campus and learn how to fully and properly research topics — something that would be of great benefit to both herself and her readers.

  • Oops. Meant to say “…suffice it to say that California is not Wyoming and fracking…”

  • It is unfortunate that articles of this nature and low caliber are produced. The article is so inaccurate on so many levels. Since when is it appropriate for an “Art Major” to comment on science and technology? It is bad enough when “PoliSci” majors are allowed to give their political rants on science. Her ignorance oozing out of this article is more an environmental risk than the practice of fracking as conducted in California. Shame on Golden Gate Express for allowing such a poorly written and incredibly wrong article to be published!

  • It is also unfortunate that while constructing a heavily impassioned response (seemingly intended to berate rather than teach) that someone wouldn’t bother to accurately name the publication while evidence of its correct spelling is provided multiple times on every page. For example, “Golden Gate Express” (a miniature garden railway) versus “Golden Gate Xpress” (a San Francisco State University newspaper that advocates ‘public engagement and discussion that will serve the greatest good.’) A certain type of ignorance seems to ooze out of a response that attacks an organization without reviewing its ‘About’ page. Besides, it is bad enough that a poorly written response includes inaccurate presumptions about the major of the article’s author. Perhaps instead of harassing her training, responses can be made that offer constructive input to the actual topic.

  • I totally agree with Mr. Richard wilson ” I have read some mis-informed articles in my time but this beats the lot. There have been hundreds of reports/investigations and so on into the use of fracturing and NONE have ever found a proven link between fracturing and contaminated water supply. To refer to ‘Gaslands’ as some form of factual reference is laughable, the film has been proven to be a pack of lies. “Destroy the land” ???? It is just this sort of panic writing that prevents informed debate, I suggest Elissa that you do a modicum of research BEFORE writing in future.”
    These sort of ignorant writings are responsible for many mishaps and even killings just like the California Video on Mohammed/islam. My suggestion/advice to Elissa is to join a petroleum Engineering curriculum if her intelligence level permits, complete the courses successfully and then make an attempt to write these sort of articles. Be educated first and then educate your family, else you will have a chaotic home.

    Subijoy Dutta, P.E.
    MS (Petroeum & Geol. engineering, ’84 (OU)

  • For the state of regulatory activities in CA concerning hydrraulic fracturing see online ‘California Regulators: See No Fracking, Speak No Fracking’ (Feb 2012).
    Also to suggest CA has ‘escaped fracking’ is nonsense. See online from La Times: ‘Study of Fracking Baldwin Hills Area to Be Released Next Month’. Are the petroleum geologists reading this concerned at all with introducing/injecting fracking fluids into known CA fault zones?
    Finally, contact Kern County’s Environmental Health Dept to learn more about how the petroleum industry has messed with the environmental quality with standard drilling oil practices. (74% of all CA oil comes from Kern Co.)

  • Hundreds of reports with no link between fracking and contamination of water supply? Right. That’s oil industry propaganda worth a laugh. The oil industry has been paying for clean up for damage from fracking for YEARS, including contaminated private wells. See online this out of Maryland…
    ‘The Cost of Fracking: The Price Tag of Dirty Drilling’s Environmental Damage (Fall 2012)

  • Based on available data from 6 states with extensive oil drilling including hydraulic fracturing, the state of enforcement of oil and gas regulations is pathetic. See this released this month, available online:
    BREAKING ALL THE RULES: THE CRISIS IN OIL AND GAS REGULATORY ENFORCEMENT.
    Texas had 70,000 violations in 2010.

  • For an industry perspective on CA oil exploration prospects, see this online in E&P by Rhonda Duey (June 1, 2011): ‘Monterey Shale: Califronia’s Sleeping Giant’. Note Occidental Petroleum’s white paper cited in the piece in which their engineers have concluded (for this young shale formation) that ‘large-scale hydrofluoric acid jobs’ would be preferable to hydraulic fracturing. Now doesn’t that sound yummy?
    What’s odd in the article is that the CEO of an oil firm VENOCO claims he’s into using acid baths instead of fracking, yet the permit his company applied for in southern Monterey County (also Monterey shale) included the proposed use of hydraulic fracturing. Go figure.