Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, has garnered no small amount of controversy due to its negative environmental effects. Fracking involves drilling into the ground and injecting fluid, consisting of water, chemicals, and sand, at high pressure to fracture shale rocks. The rocks release natural gas into a well, which can be harvested as an energy source. While the practice has become increasingly common, concern is spreading about both the environmental hazards and the health risks.
Fracking is still a relatively new technology, and the scale of its environmental impact remains unknown. Oil and gas companies have not released the exact formulas for their fracking fluid, claiming that it is proprietary information, but many of the commonly used chemicals are known toxins including carcinogens.
In fact, fracking fluid can contain up to 600 different chemicals, which can contaminate the groundwater surrounding the well. The procedure can also release naturally occurring but dangerous compounds into the environment. Drinking wells near fracking sites have shown methane levels 17 times higher than other locations, as well as elevated arsenic levels in some areas. Fracking can also release chemicals into the air and is known to produce toxic waste that is often improperly handled.
The prevalence of these chemicals in the air, soil, and water around fracking sites can result in serious illnesses. They can destroy a domestic water supply for generations, causing serious damage.
It is not just residents who are at risk – workers in the oil and gas extraction industry have a fatality rate seven times higher than other industries. Workers in the fracking sub-sector face unique risks, such as:
The fracking industry has expanded quickly, and employers are under pressure to fill jobs quickly. While OSHA requires all workers to be thoroughly trained and notified of how to safely handle hazards on the job, insufficient training, supervision, and safety equipment are often realities faced by these workers. Employers are also required to adequately maintain any machinery used in the fracking process, which can cause devastating injuries to employees if not repaired in a timely fashion.
Many of the problems with fracking stem from its lack of regulation. While evidence shows that fracking can contaminate water supplies, the practice is exempt from federal regulation applied to other forms of underground drilling. Oil and gas companies are generally not required to inform landowners of the risks of fracking, even though it can damage their property and they may be held responsible for the cleanup.
Case law surrounding fracking is still being written, as lawsuits are brought forward alleging property damage, personal injury, and wrongful death. If you or your family had property or drinking water damage, or suffered an injury or illness as a result of fracking, an experienced environmental lawyer can help you review your legal options.
The Pennsylvania fracking lawyers at Williams Cuker Berezofsky have the knowledge and experience to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our lawyers have a thorough understanding of environmental law and will pursue an aggressive legal strategy to hold those responsible for your injury accountable. We help fracking victims throughout the commonwealth. Call us today at 215-557-0099 or contact us online for a free consultation with a dedicated fracking lawyer.