Hoping to better understand the health effects of oil fracking, the state in 2013 ordered oil companies to test the chemical-laden waste water extracted from wells.
Data culled from the first year of those tests found significant concentrations of the human carcinogen benzene in this so-called “flowback fluid.” In some cases, the fracking waste liquid, which is frequently reinjected into groundwater, contained benzene levels thousands of times greater than state and federal agencies consider safe.
The testing results from hundreds of wells showed, on average, benzene levels 700 times higher than federal standards allow, according to a Times analysis of the state data.
The presence of benzene in fracking waste water is raising alarm over potential public health dangers amid admissions by state oil and gas regulators that California for years inadvertently allowed companies to inject fracking flowback water into protected aquifers containing drinking water.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency called the state’s errors “shocking.” The agency’s regional director said that California’s oil field waste water injection program has been mismanaged and does not comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
Read it and weep, folks. Shocking, I say – shocking.
Except I’m not shocked. BITD, I worked in and around oil fields in Louisiana and there is no other class of business [in my experience] that spends 24 hours a day looking for ways to circumvent regulations. Especially requirements for environmental health and safety.
The article is the sort of thing LA Times journalists are thorough about. They don’t skimp on excellence. And, no, I don’t think the Feds have any right to be shocked. They should have been watching these sharks like tuna on toast.