Why Fracking Must Be Banned by Caitlin C, based on writings by Sandra Steingraber, November 1, 2012 Breast Cancer Action
Here’s how hydraulic fracturing introduces cancer risks into communities from the start and into perpetuity:
• Many naturally occurring toxic materials, including, in some cases, radioactivity, are trapped inside shale bedrock. Drilling and fracking operations can liberate and mobilize these materials.
• The chemicals necessary to frack the rock are themselves toxic.
• Our drinking water aquifers lie above the rocks we are shattering.
• Fracking lays down blankets of smog over surrounding landscapes, fills roadways with trucks hauling hazardous materials, sends sediment into streams, and generates immense quantities of radioactive, carcinogen-laced waste for which no fail-safe disposal options exist.
• Thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals are added to the millions of gallons of fracking water. Indeed, potential carcinogens make up 25 percent of the chemical additives used in fracking operations. Sometimes, through leaks, blow-outs, or surface spills, these chemicals migrate into water not intended for fracking. Fracking has been implicated in the contamination of surface and groundwater supplies across the United States.
• Nationwide, more than a thousand different cases of water contamination have been documented near fracking sites.
• In Pennsylvania, more than 8,000 gallons of fracking fluid containing a suspected carcinogen spilled into a waterway.
• In Parker County, Texas, fracked gas wells poisoned a drinking water aquifer with benzene and methane.
• Likewise, in Pavillion, Wyo., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found benzene in groundwater and wells. Benzene exposure is strongly associated with childhood leukemia and is a known human carcinogen.
Some of the cancer risk from fracking comes from the release of naturally occurring chemicals found deep in the earth. One of them is radium-226, which is as radioactive as its name implies. Of over 240 fracked gas wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, almost three-fourths produced wastewater with elevated levels of radiation.
Until we know the answers to concerns about fracking and human health risks, benefit of the doubt goes to breasts, not to the chemicals that cause cancer in breasts. The burden of proof belongs on the shoulders of the gas industry to demonstrate safety, not on the backs of women, who will have to suffer and die in order to prove without a doubt that fracking causes breast cancer.