Pits filled with liquid waste from fracking, known as "impoundments," are supposedly contained by liners. Leaks at three sites in Washington County locations are proving otherwise.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is currently investigating leaks at these locations owned by Range Resources, Inc. As the waste seeps into nearby groundwater and soil, concerns about the safety of these impoundments have increased. Holes have been discovered in the liners, which are meant to protect against contamination.
An important sign that there has been a leak is large amounts of chloride in nearby water and soil, which was measured at twice its acceptable level at one site. Range Resources has since been accused of poorly monitoring their chloride levels. According to the DEP, chloride may cause drinking water to become salty if it contaminates private water supplies. The chloride concentration could cause issues for public health such as high blood pressure and kidney problems when levels reach more than 250 miligrams per liter, the maximum standard for U.S. drinking water.
Though the DEP has increased supervision of the impoundments and has issued violation notices, many believe it's too little too late. Some residents living nearby these pits claim that they were not warned of a possible contamination and are disturbed by the recent findings. Washington County members using well water close to an impoundment have been asked to contact the DEP if they notice a foul taste or smell in the water. They have also been told to test their water if they sense that it may be contaminated.
Currently, no health or safety incidences have been reported relating to the contaminations. But with elevated chloride levels and malfunctions in the equipment meant to prevent the waste from escaping, residents are left ill at ease.
It's yet to be seen if these leaks will have an impact on the health of nearby residents. But every day someone is harmed by chemical waste or structures meant to keep them safe. If you or a loved one were harmed by chemicals or defective equipment, you may have a case.
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