The U.S. Geological Survey released a study in May that for the first time linked surface water contamination to natural gas fracking wastewater injection sites.
Dr. Denise Akob and her colleagues at USGS studied the effects of a wastewater storage facility located on Wolf Creek, near Lochgelly, W.Va. They took water and sediment samples from locations at the facility, upstream, downstream and from nearby waterways.
The researchers wrote that “multiple lines of evidence demonstrate that activities at the disposal facility are impacting the stream that runs through the area.”
InsideClimate News reports that metals such as strontium, barium and lithium were found in higher concentrations in the downstream samples, as were radioactive compounds. Wolf Creek is a tributary of the New River.
In another study of this site, researchers from Duke University found that the downstream samples also contained endocrine-disrupting compounds that are known to affect the reproductive organs of certain fish.
The companies operating the facility in Fayette Co., W.Va., are fighting the implementation of a county-wide ban on fracking wastewater disposal and storage that passed unanimously in January. — Elizabeth E. Payne