Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fracking Fluid in River

Fracking Fluid Drums Found In Arkansas Creek

Hydraulic fracturing fluid being reclaimed at a natural gas well site near Burlington, Pa. (AP)Hydraulic fracturing fluid being reclaimed at a natural gas well site near Burlington, Pa. (AP)

Hazardous materials crews have removed more than 20 barrels labeled as containing chemicals used for natural gas drilling from a creek in the north Arkansas town of Clinton.

Mayor Roger Rorie is upset because they were in Choctaw Creek, which provides the town's drinking water and were located just a few miles upstream from its water treatment plant.

“It goes straight to our water intake and it's fracking fluids in 55 gallon drums,” Rorie said. “We don't know how much of it has leaked out.”

He says a fisherman discovered the barrels, which emergency crews then removed.

“I'm here at the site right now where they're pulling the barrels out of the water and everyone's here just waiting on another boat to come up,” Rorie said. “The boats are going up and down the stream now picking up more barrels.”

Authorities are trying to determine if they contained the chemicals identified on the labels and whether Clinton's water has been contaminated.

“What is on the barrels or what the labels that we're seeing indicate are surfactants and lubricants and those are commonly used in the drilling operation,” said Cecillea Pond-Mayo, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

“We are going to be taking samples of the water and testing specifically for those contents.”

Mayor Rorie alleges that there has long been misconduct by companies involved in natural gas drilling in the area.

“I've been telling people what's been going on here for three years and no one has listened to me. Now we've got proof,” Rorie said.

He said the barrel labels contain lot numbers and other data that can be used to trace where they came from.

“We don't know what company dumped them in the water,” Rorie said, “but we're going to find out. We're going to prosecute.”

The ADEQ spokeswoman says the barrels might not have been intentionally dumped.

“There's a possibility that flooding may have contributed to the barrels actually being in the creek," said Pond-Mayo. "We don't know that for certain, but there is a possibility because of rising water, if the barrels were stacked on land, that that could have contributed to that. But that's something we're going to have to look at.”

The Arkansas Department of Health will determine whether Clinton's drinking water has been compromised.

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