Death by a Thousand Spills

Reading the weekly news of the oil and gas fracking industry in the United States reminds one of an old expression, “Death by a thousand cuts,” with the similarity being the cumulative effect of multiple smaller events.

With the oil and gas industry, another applicable quote would be:
“If they’re drilling, they’re spilling.”

The images below detail 3 spills in the same Pennsylvania township. The first two spills and fish kills occurred less than 5 months apart, while the third spill occurred two years later.

An excellent story by Tom Haines in POLITICO details oil production spilling events in North Dakota all too well. While the main focus of his story is on the super high salt content of the brine that returns from ‘the deep’ following fracking, many people in the Marcellus Shale regions of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are more concerned about the radioactive content of those toxic liquids.

The Marcellus Shale is more radioactive than other shale layer in the United States, and Radium 226 is not only water soluble, but also has a radioactive half-life of 1600 years. To that, add high levels of other toxins, both known and unknown, since many frac chemicals are hidden under the “proprietary” cloak.

Legislators in North Dakota and Pennsylvania are finally working on better classification and labelling of these toxic brines, which travel around Pennsylvania in 4,000 and 5,000 gallon tanker trucks labelled only as “RESIDUAL WASTE.” Generic labelling should never apply to the true nature of these toxic fluids.

Are we being “fossil fools” over fossil fuels? Sure looks that way!

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