Oil Industry Illegally Dumps Fracking Wastewater into California’s Aquifers

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Reports obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity show that the oil industry has illegally dumped almost three billion gallons of wastewater from fracking (hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas from deep underground) into aquifers in central California. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the leaking occurred through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of contaminated waste. The aquifers that were affected supply water for human consumption as well as irrigation for crops that provide food for human consumption.

The documents also reveal that water supply wells located close to wastewater injection sites were tested and found to have high levels of arsenic, thallium, and nitrates, all toxic chemicals linked to the oil industry’s wastewater. According to the documents, the State Water Board admits that an additional nineteen fracking wells may have been leaking wastewater into protected aquifers.

This revelation comes amidst discussions to regulate fracking activities in California. In the last five years the oil industry has lobbied powerfully, having spent over $63 million in efforts to persuade California policymakers to permit the continuation and expansion of fracking. In May 2014, state senators rejected a fracking moratorium bill. The senators who voted against the moratorium received fourteen times more money in campaign contributions from the oil industry than those who voted no on it.

Although corporate media have covered debate over fracking regulations, the Center for Biological Diversity study regarding the dumping of wastewater into California’s aquifers has gone ignored.

Source: Dan Bacher, “Massive dumping of wastewater into aquifers shows Big Oil’s power in California,” IndyBay,  October 11, 2014, http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/10/11/18762739.php.

Student Researcher: Carolina de Mello (College of Marin)

Faculty Researcher: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)