Postby Oscar » Sat Jun 18, 2016 10:12 am

Radioactive Ranchers? Elements Found Downwind of Intensive Fracking

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Nielle and Howard Hawkwood now want a moratorium on Alberta industry.

By Andrew Nikiforuk, 11 Jun 2016,


Fracking hazards

In recent years many studies have underscored the dangers of unconventional shale development for oil or gas for people living nearby fracked well sites.

A 2015 Dartmouth College study found that chemical reactions between injected freshwater and hydraulically fractured shale itself could release large amounts of the toxic metal barium and potentially radium, too. [ ... 134653.htm ]

One 2016 study published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology found elevated levels of barium and strontium in flowback or wastewaters from wells that were recently fracked. This same wastewater malignantly transformed cells and formed tumors in mice. [ ... 8X15300375 ]

A study in West Virginia found that an injection well pumping salty wastewater from fracking operations into the ground had leaked and contaminated a local stream with radioactive elements and other chemicals. [ ]

Another Texas study found that shale gas activity can contaminate nearby water wells with a variety of heavy metals and toxic chemicals ranging from arsenic to strontium. Moreover, it found these contaminants will fluctuate over time.

A 2015 analysis of the management of wastewater, including radioactive wastes at unconventional drilling operations in four North American jurisdictions (including Alberta), found huge gaps and inconsistencies. [ ... gement.pdf ]

Both industry and government knew little about ''the fate of wastewater, the source of water used, water injection and production, and chemical analysis,'' said the report.

It added that it was also unclear ''what portion of a well's wastewater is reused/recycled, treated, surface discharged, or deep-well injected. This lack of information prohibits any direct analysis of wastewater management practices for the hydraulic fracturing operations based on the available information in databases.''

More than 10,000 horizontal wells have been drilled and fracked in Alberta in the last decade.

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Prevent Cancer Now, a Canadian civil society organization comprised of scientists and health professionals, recently noted that ''the AER has no jurisdiction for human health, and Alberta is famed for a chill against the medical community linking ill health to petrochemicals.'' [ ... ochemicals ]

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The studies are voluminous and alarming.

In 2014, a U.S. federal study reported that pollution from the mining of natural gas in rural areas can increase the incidence of congenital heart defects among babies born to mothers living close to well sites. [ ... h-Defects/ ]

In 2015, another major U.S. study found that the fracking of unconventional rock formations can liberate and accelerate the release of radon, a highly carcinogenic gas into people's homes. [ ... as-Hazard/ ]

The studies are all part of a growing body of new peer-reviewed scientific literature that shows the industry is having a definitive health impact on rural populations.

In 2009, the number of peer-reviewed studies on the impact of shale gas or tight oil development (all use the technology of fracking) numbered but six papers.

But due to unrelenting controversy, the research on the impact of unconventional drilling has grown to encompass nearly 700 studies.

This year, researchers with PSE Healthy Energy, a scientific institute that supports energy policies based on evidence, assessed the studies and separated out those specifically dealing with air, water, and human health.

The researchers found that vast majority of studies that fell into those categories showed serious public health problems ranging from human exposure to cancer-causing chemicals to water contamination.

Of 31 studies that looked at human health impacts, 26 of them -- 84 per cent -- found significant public health hazards or elevated risks. Of 58 studies on water quality, 69 per cent found actual water contamination or potential problems.

And out of 46 studies on air quality, 87 per cent found direct evidence of elevated air pollution downwind from fracking sites either from trucks, venting or flaring.

Researchers concluded that their assessment ''demonstrates that the weight of the scientific literature indicates that there are hazards and elevated risks to human health as well as possible adverse health outcomes.'' -- Andrew Nikiforuk
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