Over the weekend, local gas-drilling opponents forwarded to media members Ian Urbina's piece in Sunday's New York Times about the heretofore unknown dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting water, sand and a laundry list of toxins known and unknown into the ground that busts up rock and releases gas. Using docs from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and even drillers, Urbina writes that gas drilling may be even more dangerous than earlier thought:
The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.
Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. Their concern is based partly on a 2009 study, never made public, written by an E.P.A. consultant who concluded that some sewage treatment plants were incapable of removing certain drilling waste contaminants and were probably violating the law.
But: "The E.P.A. has not intervened." Meanwhile, of course, XTO Energy is demanding its promised-and-paid-for specific use permits to begin drilling near Hensley Field and Joe Pool Lake. Dave Neumann said he would form a task force, but didn't. Which is why, just last week, Angela Hunt finally spelled out her demands for a gas-drilling task force before the city takes one step further in October, to which votes on the SUPs have been deferred. In the wee small hours of this morning, she explained why she wrote that task-force memo:
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Last month, the Dallas City Council agreed to delay a drilling permit vote until a city-appointed taskforce could review and revise the city's drilling ordinance. However, a taskforce proposal has not been forthcoming, and concerned residents have regularly voiced their frustration to the City Council about this delay.
Creating a gas drilling taskforce is a critical first step in evaluating the hazards that may be posed by hydro-fracking. ... Given the growing evidence of risks associated with hydro-fracking, the Dallas City Council must move swiftly to address the safety of this practice.