EPA plans to study the potential health concerns associated with the use of hydraulic fracturing to free up natural gas deposits. EPA has sent an information request to the nine leading hydraulic fracturing service providers seeking more detail about their business practices, including the names of the chemicals they use.
The information will be used to finalize a congressionally mandated study of the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies. While the information request is voluntary, EPA has asked the companies to advise the Agency within seven days on whether they intend to cooperate. If so, the response to the information request issued September 9th is due within 30 days of its receipt.
There are growing health-related concerns over the increased use of hydraulic fracturing – a technique employed by the oil and gas extraction companies to fracture underground rock formations and free up natural gas deposits. In such a process, various materials and hazardous substances are injected under high pressure to improve access to the natural gas deposits. There is evidence that such activities may contaminate drinking wells and other water supplies.
EPA expects to provide preliminary study findings in late 2012. The Agency's information request and additional information about hydraulic fracturing is available at http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/class2/hydraulicfracturing.