Letter to the Editor 11/5

By Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

I am writing in response to your two recent articles on the drilling in the… To the Editor,

I am writing in response to your two recent articles on the drilling in the Marcellus Shale and students’ involvement. While I’m happy to see The Pitt News reporting on these issues, you are essentially lying by omission and misinforming your readers by not discussing the statements from both the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the industry.

The DEP secretary’s statement in yesterday’s article that fracking fluid has never come back to groundwater (and, implicitly, that drilling is safe) may be true, but there have been numerous examples of both fracking fluid leaking at the surface as well as gas migrating to groundwater due to poorly cased wells — and these are impressively serious risks.

Similarly, the industry statement that the fracturing fluid used is greater than 99 percent water and sand is accurate, but we don’t measure human health risk with percents, we measure it by parts per million — and even 0.5 percent is 5,000 ppm. That’s not to mention the huge amount of salts, heavy metals and other contaminants that come back up with the water during flowback — which make up 5 percent or more of the total volume. Whether through leaks, dilution or (most egregious) dumping, that’s a lot of things we don’t want to be drinking — even at greater than 1 percent.

Certainly there are misrepresentations on both sides — but “balancing” spin with spin in an article accurately informs no one. You owe it to readers to either explain or provide resources which help people accurately learn about and discuss these issues.


Alexander Dale

Swanson School of Engineering