According to a recent study, toxic ‘fracking’ chemicals remain for a long period of time in the environment. This is so alarming that it may contaminate food and water supplies.
The process of fracking takes place when a mixture chemicals and water is inserted into the ground to drill into shale and rock which extracts oil deposits. There are several chemicals that are commonly used in fracking which includes toxic biocides, corrosion inhibitors and slicking agents.
Recently, researchers from Colorado State University conducted a study to find out the possible areas where spilled chemicals end up after the process of transportation and during oil explorations. What the researchers are worried about is that these spills usually happen on or near agricultural lands and may contaminate food and water supply.
Combinations of chemicals are harder to breakdown
In the same study, researchers have found out that particular chemical combinations make chemicals harder to breakdown. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) for example only takes 70 days to biodegrades completely but when combined with glutaraldehyde take much a longer time.
One of the researchers, Prof. Thomas Borch who’s working the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, says, “Our motivation for doing this is because the chemicals often come up as mixtures. While you may see biodegradation of a surfactant under normal circumstances, if you spill that together with a biocide that kills bacteria, maybe you don’t break that surfactant down as quickly. And that’s exactly what we see. If chemicals don’t degrade as quickly, it gives them more time to be transported to groundwater or sensitive surface water.”
A lot of toxic wastewater dumped in rivers and streams
According to the recent study published in Environmental Science and Technology, a tremendous number of cases of fracking wastewater spills are found in the rivers and streams of North Dakota, and these are contaminated by corrosive salts, radioactive materials and heavy metals. From 2009 to 2014, there are 21,000 reported cases of spills with over 180 million gallons estimated amount of toxic wastewater. Lack of regulation and monitoring by both local and federal authorities are blamed for the increasing number of spills.
Do you think there is a better way???