The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday that it hopes to begin a study this year on the effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies.
This research can’t begin soon enough in the Marcellus shale region of Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and West Virginia, which has experienced a multiplication of natural gas drilling wells using hydraulic fracturing. “Fracking” is technique in which drilling companies pump millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals into the ground to fracture rock and release natural gas into pipes.
I took a trip this fall up to Dimock, Pennsylvania, to interview several residents whose wells had been contaminated with methane by drilling rigs that now surround their rural town. One woman, Norma Fiorentino (pictured above), a retired nurse and widow, reported that the water well in her front yard blew up last year because of leaking methane. She said her tap water ran black and smelled of diesel fuel, and she’s been drinking bottled water since.