EPA Finalizes Fracking Report

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its scientific report on the impacts of fracking on drinking water resources on Tuesday. The report is intended to provide states and other entities the scientific foundation to better protect drinking water resources in areas where fracking is occurring or being considered.

The report was requested by Congress and provides scientific evidence that fracking activities can impact drinking water resources. EPA identified conditions under which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities can be more frequent or severe.

The report also identifies uncertainties and data gaps. These uncertainties and data gaps limited EPA’s ability to fully assess impacts to drinking water resources both locally and nationally. The oil and gas industry is, of course, highlighting these data gaps in it’s response to the report.

These final conclusions are based upon the EPA’s review of over 1,200 cited scientific sources; feedback from an independent peer review conducted by EPA’s Science Advisory Board; input from engaged stakeholders; and new research conducted as part of the study.

“The value of high quality science has never been more important in helping to guide decisions around our nation’s fragile water resources. EPA’s assessment provides the scientific foundation for local decision makers, industry, and communities that are looking to protect public health and drinking water resources and make more informed decisions about hydraulic fracturing activities,” said Dr. Thomas A. Burke, EPA’s Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “This assessment is the most complete compilation to date of national scientific data on the relationship of drinking water resources and hydraulic fracturing.”

EPA identified cases of impacts on drinking water at each stage in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. Impacts cited in the report generally occurred near hydraulically fractured oil and gas production wells. Impacts included contamination that made private drinking water wells unusable.

As part of the report, EPA identified certain conditions under which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities can be more frequent or severe, including:

  • Water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing in times or areas of low water availability, particularly in areas with limited or declining groundwater resources;
  • Spills during the management of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals or produced water that result in large volumes or high concentrations of chemicals reaching groundwater resources;
  • Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into wells with inadequate mechanical integrity, allowing gases or liquids to move to groundwater resources;
  • Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources;
  • Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water resources; and
  • Disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in unlined pits, resulting in contamination of groundwater resources.

For a copy of the study, visit www.epa.gov/hfstudy.

Snyder appoints former BP Exec to head DEQ

Today, Governor Rick Snyder appointed Heidi Grether, the former executive of BP America, as the new director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Grether is the currently the deputy Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE).

BP is responsible for one of the largest marine oil spills in history after an oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico exploded in 2010. In her former role at BP, Grether was in charge of supervising Gulf Coast restoration efforts. In April 2014, BP claimed that cleanup was substantially complete, but the United States Coast Guard said that a lot of work remained. Reports from individuals on the Gulf Coast indicate the same.


While the administration is attempting to greenwash the appointee, enviro and other justice organizations around the state aren’t taking the bait.

“I am infuriated but not shocked that Snyder chose to appoint someone who had a hand in one of the worst man-made water disasters and cleanup failures in history to head the MDEQ,” said Melissa Mays, Flint resident and activist with Water You Fighting For and Flint Rising. “We have spoken with residents who are still affected by the BP disaster and they expressed concern that Flint water will also not get cleaned up properly. As we sit here in Flint, still unable to safely use our water, reading about who Snyder handpicked to run the MDEQ, we see those fears are more likely to be realized.”

“Snyder’s decision to yet again side with corporate polluters over protecting peoples’ health and safety continues to show his callous indifference to the suffering of Flint families and all Michiganders that have been harmed by the culture of putting the bottom-line first at the MDEQ,” said Lynna Kaucheck, senior organizer with Food & Water Watch.

And in our own office, CACC board member and volunteer coordinator Jennifer Raymond was quoted as saying, “Snyder’s actions clearly underscore the need for grassroots environmental efforts as our civic leaders are clearly not prioritizing the needs of the environment around us.”

Clouds of smoke billow up from controlled burns taking place in the Gulf of Mexico May 19, 2010. The controlled burns were set to reduce the amount of oil in the water following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (DoD photo by Chief Petty Officer John Kepsimelis, U.S. Coast Guard/Released)
Clouds of smoke billow up from controlled burns taking place in the Gulf of Mexico (DoD photo by Chief Petty Officer John Kepsimelis, U.S. Coast Guard/Released)




American Public Still at Risk from U.S. Fukushima-style Nuclear Disaster Five Years after Japan’s Triple Meltdowns

From Beyond Nuclear

Fukushima explodes March 11, 2011
Fukushima explodes March 11, 2011

TAKOMA PARK, MD, March 10, 2016 — Beyond Nuclear, a leading U.S. anti-nuclear watchdog group on reactor oversight, health impacts and radioactive waste, decried the absence of reasonable plans to prevent and protect against a nuclear disaster in the U.S., five years after the March 11, 2011 triple meltdowns began at the FukushimaDaiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

More than 32 million Japanese have been exposed to Fukushima’s radioactive fallout. Close to 160,000 people were forced to evacuate, many of whom are being urged to return — under threat of loss of compensation -— into areas the government claims to have “cleaned up”. Costs have ballooned to at least $100 billion and will soar higher once economic losses, compensation and decommissioning costs are factored in.

In the U.S., 30 GE Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors identical in design to those at Fukushima, are still in operation. While the GE model is considered the most vulnerable to catastrophic failure, every operating U.S. reactor poses a risk. Beyond Nuclear launched its Freeze our Fukushimas campaign shortly after the Japan disaster to get the GE reactors shut down.

“Not only is there no Plan B for what to do if and when a Fukushima-style disaster happens in the U.S., there is no Plan A to prevent one either,” said Cindy Folkers, Radiation and Health Specialist at Beyond Nuclear. Public health is woefully under-protected she said.

Officials in protective gear check for signs of radiation on children who are from the evacuation area near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant in Koriyama, March 13, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Officials in protective gear check for signs of radiation on children who are from the evacuation area near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant in Koriyama, March 13, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

“For example, the distribution of potassium-iodide, or KI, which at least protects the thyroid from fast-arriving iodine-131 released during a major nuclear disaster, is not mandatory in the U.S.,” Folkers said.

Although available free with an industry voucher from designated U.S. pharmacies, only 5% of impacted Americans voluntarily pick up KI. To effectively block radioactive iodine absorption in the thyroid, KI must be readily at hand.

“That is why Beyond Nuclear is urging compliance with the American Thyroid Association’s recommendation for the direct delivery of KI to the door of all residents within 50-miles of every nuclear power plant,” Folkers said.

The GE Mark I and II reactors have an inadequately small reactor containment that, during a serious accident, can only be saved by venting extreme pressure, heat, explosive gas and highly radioactive releases into the environment.

Fermi 2 at Monroe, Michigan, a GE Mark 1 reactor twice the size of Fukushima 4
Fermi 2 at Monroe, Michigan, a GE Mark 1 reactor twice the size of Fukushima 4

But the industry has refused to mitigate this problem, blocking efforts by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to mandate the installation of highly efficient radiation filters that could reduce public exposure to radiation during a nuclear power plant disaster. The NRC subsequently capitulated to the industry’s financial motives, and will not now mandate the retrofit.

“All of Fukushima’s lessons warn against a nuclear industry that protects its profit margins over public safety margins,” said Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight at Beyond Nuclear.

“The Japanese concluded that Fukushima was a preventable tragedy resulting from collusion between industry, government and regulator,” Gunter added. “But here in the U.S. the NRC has chosen to cave to industry financial concerns while gambling with public health.”

While Fukushima was precipitated by an earthquake and tsunami, there are multiple factors that could lead to a similar calamity in the U.S.

“The U.S. risks an American Fukushima, not just due to a variety of natural disasters, age-degraded equipment breakdowns, or operator errors, but also due to sabotage or attack,” said Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear’s Radioactive Waste Watchdog.

“Numerous security vulnerabilities remain fifteen years after 9/11, including high-level radioactive waste storage pools, which could release catastrophic amounts of hazardous radioactivity in the event of a successful airborne or waterborne attack,” Kamps added.

-Beyond Nuclear

More information about potassium-idodide (KI) 

More information about US GE Mark1 reactors