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Debunking Gas Industry Myths

(Also see an analysis of the industry's perennial "jobs" argument.)
MYTH: Drilling in our state forests has not affected the scenic, ecological or recreational values of our forests

FACT: This drilling has resulted in the destruction of trees, wildlife, and warnings of contaminated water are now posted in both the Allegheny and the Moshannon State Forests. The water is no longer suitable to drink. (Allegheny Defense Project, 9-1-2010)

MYTH: Drilling into the Marcellus Shale is perfectly safe; companies are ‘responsible’

FACT: There are almost as many violations as there are wells. Numerous incidents of spills, contamination and blow outs have been documented (The Pa Natural Gas Industry Wall of Shame; Environmental Dangers of Hydrofracturing the Marcellus Shale by Robert Myers, Lock Haven University)

MYTH: Drilling for natural gas will fuel Pennsylvania and lessen our dependence on foreign oil

FACT: These gas companies are selling their leases, and/or companies to China, Korea, Asian sovereign wealth funds, Japan, India, Norway, Germany and England. The gas is being exported for huge profits to a world market. (Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2010)

MYTH: Only a few water wells in rural parts of Pennsylvania have been contaminated as a result of this drilling. City water is “safe”.

FACT: Fourteen waste disposal facilities along the Monongahela Watershed are accepting chemically contaminated “frack” water, diluting it and dumping it directly into our rivers. 824,825 lbs of total dissolved solids, 15,053 lbs. of barium, 16,737 lbs. of strontium, 486, 812 lbs. of chloride are permitted disposal into the Mon River EVERY DAY!(Charles Christen, DrPH, Med) (total dissolved solids include anything present in water other than pure water and indicate the presence of toxic minerals)

MYTH: Diluting this “frack” water has little effect on water quality and health

FACT: This “flow back” water from the “fracking” process is contaminated with hundreds of chemicals, most are cancer causing. (DEP, O&G management MSDS)

The Marcellus shale formation has elevated radioactive concentrations due to naturally occurring uranium, approximately 25-30 times above background concentrations.  Meanwhile, the produced water from these wells can contain 15,000 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter) of radium.  The drinking water standard for radium is 5 pCi/L.  Most Marcellus shale wells in Pennsylvania send the fluids to wastewater treatment plants to be diluted and dumped into our rivers (Note: there are 14 sites on the Monongahela River alone) They also dispose of the dewatered drill cuttings in various landfills. (Note: cancer rates rose dramatically in communities living near these toxic landfills) Report on Radioactivity in the Marcellus Shale

MYTH: The chemicals used to ‘frack’ these wells are not harmful

FACT: 13 men that were stationed at Camp LeJeune, N.C. developed breast cancer years after drinking toxic water on the base. Many other people living there developed various other types of cancer. The SAME chemicals used in ‘fracking’ were present in the water on this base. This same chemically contaminated water is now being dumped in OUR rivers! (benzene, toluene, xylene, etc.)

"Children of all ages are considerably more vulnerable than adults to increased cancer risk and other adverse effects from virtually all harmful environmental exposures," the President’s Panel on Cancer report says. May, 2010
Leukemia is actually very well studied in terms of environmental toxins.

MYTH: Off-gassing and ‘flaring’, (a component of the Marcellus Shale drilling process) that emits volatile organic compounds into the air, will not pose health risks

FACT: In the Greater Pittsburgh region, the prevalence of asthma is about 25 percent higher than the national average, yet the use of emergency services by children with asthma is three to four times the national average, underscoring the seriousness of the disorder. Asthma has reached epidemic proportions and is linked to environmental triggers.
Pediatric Environmental Medicine Center Research, UPMC, Children’s Hospital

MYTH: Exposing the inherent risks in this type of drilling will drive away jobs, and economic growth for Pennsylvania

FACT: Costs related to health impacts resulting from contaminated air and water and environmental cleanup will far outweigh any benefits from this industry. Fort Worth Texas is 77 million dollars in debt today, despite thousands of wells drilled there since 2005. (

MYTH: Marcellus shale drilling operations and leases signed for drilling do not affect property values

FACT: Banks are not lending against frac-drilled and adjoining properties. A property with a gas or oil lease is not eligible for FHA financing, indicating that the federal government is concerned about property devaluation and consequent loss of their money
(HUD handbook 4150.2 pg. 2.7)

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, property owners who lease their land for Marcellus Shale drilling may find that they have nullified their mine subsidence insurance coverage.