On March 28, the Pittsburgh City Paper conveyed the results of PennEnvironment’s fracking violations report. During the past eight years, fracking companies operating in Pennsylvania committed more than 4,350 environmental and public health violations. This translates to an average of 1.4 violations per day.
The number of violations is significant. What’s even more disturbing is that fines were only issued for 17% of the violations. The average dollar amount of each fine was only $5, 263, which is small change to some of the billion dollar violators. Cabot Oil & Gas who violated the law more than nearly once a week during the period the report was conducted, PennEnvironment reported. In 2016, Cabot reported an annual a revenue of 1.155 billion.
“When gas companies are making billions of dollars selling natural gas out from underneath Pennsylvania but paying pennies on the dollar for breaking the law, it’s a recipe for environmental disaster,” said PennEnvironment Deputy Director Adam Garber in a release. “Sadly, the message is clear: it pays to pollute if you’re fracking in Pennsylvania.”
The violations may not have a huge impact on the wallets of the offenders, but they can have a significant impact on Pennsylvania residents. According to PennEnvironment, these fracking violations have contributed to public health threats throughout Pennsylvania.
Fracking threats include, contamination of drinking water supplies, polluting Pennsylvania’s high quality streams, and the improper disposal of toxic fracking waste. These threats can lead to serious illness or fracking injuries.
Frackcident suggests that of the 300 different chemicals used in the “frack fluid” that ends up in water supplies, 65 are listed as hazardous by the U.S. government. Municipal wastewater treatment plants are not equipped to handle fracking runoff safely, and energy companies are supposed to arrange for proper handling of the waters. Pennsylvania has experienced more than a dozen incidents where public treatment facilities have accepted natural gas wastewater, treated it improperly, and discharged poisons into surface waters.
The dangerous potential for fracking injuries led Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan to ban fracking in Pennsylvania’s neighboring state. In a Philly.com article, Hogan said “The possible environmental risks of fracking simply outweigh any potential benefits…. I’ve decided that we must take the next step and move from virtually banning fracking (Maryland has had a moratorium in place) to actually banning fracking.”
However, Philly.com suggests that it is unlikely that fracking would be banned in Pennsylvania in the near future. During the last decade, Pennsylvania became the nation’s second leading producer of natural gas. Governor Wolf touted that the state could support four more giant ethane plants, which would make the state more dependent on fracking. Subsequently, the Department of Environmental Protection approved two new large wastewater disposal wells.
Pennsylvania residents may suffer if more wells mean more fracking violations.
To learn more about fracking injuries, visit frackcident.com.