Ethical Concerns over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft plan- allowing oil & gas companies to dump unlimited amounts of chemicals & wastewater directly into the Gulf of Mexico.
More and more communities are raising the alarm on a growing concern for arbitrary chemical and fracking dumping into the Gulf of Mexico. Another agency aimed at keeping the world safe, the Center for Biological Diversity, sent a letter to the EPA expressing their direct concerns over their draft policy on allowing various companies to dump unlimited amounts of waste into the body of water. Even more alarming is that there is no tracking system or reference to identify exactly who dumps what, and how much of it. Many are unaware of the secondary and tertiary effects of dumping wastewater, specifically from fracking process; fracking is “the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc., so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas.” While there are many types of fracturing processing, the most common being hydraulic based, they all aim to pull natural resources by ‘forcing’ rock formations to crack under pressure supplied by pipes under a giant well; these cracks allow for natural gases to escape up to the base of the well to be collected. Refer below for additional information. “The EPA is endangering an entire ecosystem by allowing the oil industry to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and drilling waste fluid into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Center attorney Kristen Monsell. “This appalling plan from the agency that’s supposed to protect our water violates federal law, and shows a disturbing disregard for offshore fracking’s toxic threats to sea turtles and other Gulf wildlife.”
Offshore fracking, specifically, involves pumping sea water, chemicals and sand at extremely high pressure into undersea wells to break up rock and sand formations and clear pathways for oil and gas. Offshore drillers also treat wells with corrosive acids, such as hydrochloric acid, in a process known as “acidizing.” Mike Ludwig from the Occupy.com reports- “The technologies have been used hundreds of times to enhance oil and gas production at hundreds of Gulf wells in recent years, and environmentalists say use of the technology could increase in the future as the industry seeks to maximize production in aging offshore fields. Still, little was publicly known about these “well treatments” until Truthout and environmental groups began filing information requests with federal regulators.Many are simply confused that such a conscious focused organization would bring up such a draft for consideration.”
“Under the EPA’s current and draft permits, offshore drillers are allowed to dump an unlimited amount of fracking and acidizing chemicals overboard as long as they are mixed with the wastewater that returns from undersea wells. Oil and gas platforms dumped more than 75 billion gallons of these “produced waters” directly into the Gulf of Mexico in 2014 alone, according to the Center’s analysis of EPA records.”
Such large amounts of ‘wastewater’ can’t contain oil in a safe manner (must meet toxicity standards), and it won’t be accurately reported or responded to since oil and gas operators are only required to test the waste stream a few times a year. Monsell saids these tests could easily be conducted at times when few or no fracking chemicals are present in the wastewater, hence allowing for safer and more productive work to be done.