Election 2016

What Drilling (and Fracking) Is Doing to Texas Water

esquire.comIt’s “You Go, Local Newspapers!” Day here at the shebeen. Last month, The El Paso Times got itself a regular scoop when it published some photographs taken by the Texas Civil Air Patrol, which was out surveying damage caused by some recent flooding. The aerial shots showed massive amounts of chemicals rushing into rivers and creeks from inundated oil wells and fracking sites, yet another benefit of the business-friendly environment characteristic of the modern petro-state.

Most recently, rainbow sheens and caramel plumes can be seen radiating from tipped tanks and flooded production pads during the March flood of the Sabine River, which forms much of the state’s boundary with Louisiana. Similar scenes are visible in photos from last year’s floods of the Trinity, Red, and Colorado rivers… It’s hard to draw definite conclusions simply by looking at photographs, but after reviewing a few, one expert said the spills could be deadly. “That’s a potential disaster,” said Walter Tsou, a physician and past president of the American Public Health Association. He published an article about the possible risks posed by fracking fluids on the website of the Environmental Health Policy Institute, an arm of the group Physicians for Social Responsibility. “I’m sure it will get into the groundwater and streams and creeks,” Tsou said of photos depicting oil plumes and inundated wastewater ponds. “In other areas, cattle that drank the fracking fluid actually died an hour after drinking it. There are potential carcinogens that can lead to leukemia, brain cancer and other endocrine disruptors that can affect premature births. So it is not good to drink fracked wastewater.”

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