DEP Intentionally Withholds Fracking Contamination Evidence

Graphic by Laurie Barr www.shutterstock.com

I am reprinting the most recent alert from an organization called CREDO Action. Credo/Working Assets is a phone company who puts money toward fighting for and against various causes. This time it is drinking water contamination related to fracking for natural gas in Pennsylvania.

I would point out two details that are not mentioned here: 1) PA’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is now composed of over 40% former oil and gas industry employees. This infiltration has greatly undermined Pennsylvanians’ ability to trust that the DEP is actually working to protect the health of the people, rather than paving the way for uninterrupted and reckless drilling, and 2) when they refer to not being sure whether the “law” has been broken, it is important to remember that so much of our state assembly has been bought off by the oil and gas industry that they have for years be regurgitating new legislation written by industry lobbyists.

Credo’s message is below:

Did Pennsylvania officials cover up evidence of fracking contamination?

Here’s the latest shocking evidence that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is more concerned with promoting fracking than protecting Pennsylvanians.

The DEP intentionally withheld evidence of fracking-related water contamination from three Pennsylvania families.1

According to sworn court testimony from DEP officials, the DEP sent only partial lab test results to the families,2leaving them in the dark about the fracking-related contaminants in their water, even as they suffered from a slew of health problems.3

The DEP’s actions are reprehensible. At best, they are dangerous. At worst, as State Representative Jesse White has suggested, they are potentially criminal. And they call into question the DEP’s independence from the fracking industry. The people of Pennsylvania deserve a thorough investigation by independent federal authorities to determine the full extent of the DEP’s coverup of fracking water contamination and whether it broke the law.

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s coverup of fracking water contamination. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

In court, DEP officials revealed that it is standard procedure at the agency to release only partial lab results to families who complain that their water has been contaminated by fracking. But instead of acknowledging the seriousness of these accusations, the DEP denied that hiding evidence of water contamination is wrong and even brazenly denounced Representative White as ideologically motivated when he called for an investigation.

The DEP claims that the contaminants it found were in concentrations below safe limits. But any evidence of fracking-related contamination is a cause for concern. In Pennsylvania, fracking companies are allowed to keep secret the chemicals they use, which means that any evidence of fracking-related water contamination raises the possibility that there are dangerous chemicals in the water that aren’t even being tested for.5

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s coverup of fracking water contamination. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Pennsylvania’s fracking boom is a national disgrace. While Pennsylvania’s government bends over backward for the gas industry, communities in the state’s gasland have experienced severe problems: explosions, flammable tap water, huge ponds filled with radioactive wastewater, and massive chemical spills. Some residents have even found fracking chemicals and heavy metals in their blood.5

Accusations that Pennsylvania officials intentionally withheld evidence of water contamination from families impacted by fracking are the last straw. We don’t know if the DEP broke the law, but we do know that it failed to notify three families that their water had been contaminated by fracking. Pennsylvanians deserve a transparent investigation into the DEP’s water-testing procedures and a full explanation of why the DEP covered up evidence of fracking water contamination from impacted families.

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Pennsylvania’s coverup of fracking water contamination. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Thank you for standing up to the fracking industry.

Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. Don Hopey, “Lawmaker challenges Pennsylvania DEP’s reporting of gas well water safety,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 2, 2012
2. Jon Hurdle, “Pennsylvania Report Left Out Data on Poisons in Water Near Gas Site,” New York Times, November 2, 2012
3. Don Hopey, “Washington County families sue over fracking, water testing,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 26, 2012
4. Rachel Morgan, “Heavy metals: Study links water contamination to fracking,” Times Online, November 3, 2012
5. Mike Soraghan, “Two-thirds of frack disclosures omit ‘secrets,'” EnergyWire, September 26, 2012
6. Eliza Griswold, “The Fracturing of Pennsylvania,” New York Times, November 2011

4 Responses

  1. If this is true is is reprehensible and truly scary.

    • Yes. It’s currently one of the greatest threats to our nation, and unfortunately, both the President and his challenger held the same platform position on oil & gas exploration. “Drill, Baby, Drill”–and they are STILL covered by the 2005 Bush/Chaney exemption to the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Air Acts under this president.

  2. Without knowing what parameters are routinely reported in all cases, it is impossible to know if they have deviated from standard procedure in these cases. Without knowing what health problems these folks were having before fracking began and without having test data from their water supply before fracking began, it is impossible to judge what was intentional, if indeed anything was, in their reports to the families.

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