Natural Gas Extraction a Threat to NYC Water Supply?

A water- and chemical-intensive process to mine natural gas may pose a threat to the watershed supplying drinking water to 14 million people.
May 26, 2009, 12pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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"Trillions of cubic feet of natural gas are locked under the Marcellus Shale that runs from West Virginia, through Ohio, across most of Pennsylvania and into the Southern Tier of New York state. It takes an estimated 3 million to 5 million gallons of water per well to drill down to the natural gas in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The water is mixed with resin-coated sand and a cocktail of hazardous chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, nitrogen, biocides, surfactants, friction reducers and benzene to facilitate the fracturing of the shale to extract the gas.

About 60 percent of the toxic water used to extract the natural gas-touted in mendacious commercials by the natural gas industry as 'clean' energy-is left underground. The rest is stored in huge, open pits that dot the landscapes at drilling sites, before it is loaded into hundreds of large vehicles and trucked to regional filtration facilities.

The New York City watershed lies within the Marcellus Shale. This watershed provides unfiltered water to more than 14 million people in New York City, upstate New York, Philadelphia and northern New Jersey. It is the largest unfiltered drinking water supply in the United States. And if the federal government does not intervene swiftly, it could become contaminated."

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Published on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 in AlterNet
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