An alarming new study has identified 6,600 chemical spills related to hydraulic fracturing in just four US states over a ten year period. The finding shows that fracking is far messier than previously assumed, and that stricter safety measures need to be established and enforced.
New research published in Environmental Science & Technology shows that upwards of 16 percent of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” wells in Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania report a spill each year. These sites—whether it be due to human error, shoddy equipment, or environmental factors—dump chemical-laden water, hydraulic fracturing fluids, and other nasty substances onto the ground, where it can trickle into sensitive water sources. The new research, in addition to offering important insights into the frequency, volume, and cause of spills, points to the need for standardizing how spills are reported.