Safe Drinking Water Act

September 26, 2013

Floods Exacerbate Damage of Fracking in Colorado

Source: Targeted News Service, September 24, 2013
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As floodwaters continue to rage across the Front Range, our first thoughts are with the victims and their families. And to add insult to injury, Coloradans now have reason to be concerned about their water quality. Oil and gas industry infrastructure in the region has been severely compromised. Toxic wastewater tanks have been spotted floating in the floodwaters, pipelines are broken and sagging, and the state is now tracking several oil and gas spills.

“We were concerned about fracking before the flooding,” said Lindsey Wilson, field associate with Environment Colorado. “But now, oil and gas spilling into the floodwaters, contaminating drinking water, is an added exclamation point to the long list of dangers that fracking has brought to Colorado.”

The largest spill occurred on Wednesday when about 5,225 gallons of crude oil flowed into the South Platte River near Milliken. Nearly 2 million residents of Denver rely on the South Platte for their drinking water and just over 70 percent of Coloradans rely on the South Platte as their main water source.

“Toxic chemicals, such as cancer-causing benzene, have mixed with floodwaters posing a severe public health hazard,” said Wilson. “While we do not know the full extent of the contamination, we know that thousands of Coloradans’ drinking water could be affected.”

The oil and gas industry is currently exempt from some key provisions of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and our nation’s hazardous waste law. The thousands of gallons of drilling waste mixing with floodwaters reinforces the need to close these toxic loopholes that leave communities vulnerable to water contamination.

Environment Colorado will be releasing a report Oct. 3, entitled “Fracking by the Numbers,” which will quantify key measures of fracking threats to our environment and health.


January 25, 2013

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Unregulated Fracking in California

Source:, January 24, 2013

The Center for Biological Diversity issued the following news release:

The Center for Biological Diversity went to court today to compel California regulators to enforce an existing state law that should protect people and the environment from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a rapidly spreading new method of oil and gas extraction. The lawsuit filed this morning in Alameda County Superior Court says the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has allowed fracking to expand without legally required oversight.

California law applies safeguards and disclosure requirements to any underground injection carried out by the oil and gas industry, the lawsuit points out, and fracking clearly involves injection. Yet the state does not yet regulate or even monitor this controversial practice.

“A looming fracking boom threatens to transform California, creating serious pollution risks to our air, water and climate,” said the Center’s Vera Pardee. “Existing rules clearly cover fracking, but state officials don’t regulate or even track this dangerous way of extracting oil and gas. The state needs to stop ignoring the law and start protecting our environment.”

Fracking involves blasting massive amounts of water and industrial chemicals, mixed with sand, deep into the earth at pressures high enough to crack apart geologic formations, causing fractures that let oil and gas move into the wells and to the surface.

More than 600 wells in at least nine California counties were fracked in 2011 alone, and recent advances in fracking techniques are driving a growing interest in the Monterey Shale, a geological formation holding an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil.…

October 4, 2012

Mobile Home Park magnate will pay over $1 million for drinking water and waste water violations

Source:, October 1, 2012

The owners of 73 mobile home park communities, which house thousands of residents, have agreed to pay a $1,339,000 penalty to resolve allegations that they violated federal and state environmental laws and regulations concerning the treatment of sewage and drinking water. The settlement agreement was filed in federal court on Friday. Frank Perano and a series of his corporations and related entities own, operate, and/or manage mobile home parks in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia. After a joint multi-year investigation, EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) found evidence of more than 4,300 Clean Water Act violations at 15 mobile home parks in Pennsylvania where the defendants treat waste water, and more than 900 Safe Drinking Water Act violations at 30 mobile home parks also in Pennsylvania. The complaint filed with the proposed consent decree in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania details violations during the past five years. The monetary settlement will be divided between the United States and Pennsylvania. The Clean Water Act violations involved illegal discharges of partially treated or untreated sewage into nearby streams and failure to properly operate and maintain treatment facilities. Safe Drinking Water Act violations generally involved the defendants’ exceedances of federal drinking water standards for certain pollutants and their failure to notify residents about drinking water problems. EPA and PADEP identified the violations by conducting inspections, sharing technical and legal expertise, and requiring the defendants to provide documentation concerning sampling, operation and maintenance, and other regulated activities. …

June 20, 2012

Risks increasing for properties with chlorinated solvent contamination

Source:, June 6, 2012
By: Susan P. Phillips and Katy E. Ward, Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC

For properties where chlorinated solvents have been released, new regulatory challenges and related liability concerns are increasing as a result of controversial human health studies recently published by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The following summarizes the new challenges and presents recommendations for addressing them.

Issues Presented by Chlorinated Solvents

Properties with chlorinated solvent contamination are already particularly difficult to clean up to meet regulatory standards. The two chlorinated solvents most typically of concern are tetrachloroethylene (PCE), a chemical long used in dry cleaning, and trichloroethylene (TCE), used in parts washing and degreasing activities. Both of these chemicals can migrate in groundwater, sink through water into bedrock where they are difficult to reach, contribute in certain conditions to indoor air contamination (known as “vapor intrusion”), and already are subject to very stringent cleanup standards.…

June 11, 2012

Squeezing the Shale: Contaminated water, cancer potential dangers of fracking

Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (TX), June 6, 2012
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Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as it’s known, carries with it certain risks, but some experts say the benefits and dollars outweigh environmental concerns.

Fracking consists of injecting large amounts of water mixed with sand and chemicals at high pressure to break up rock formations far below the Earth’s surface to release gas and oil.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking into potential dangers related to the process, such as contaminated drinking water and air pollution.

The EPA is conducting a study to determine the impact of fracking on drinking water and should release preliminary findings later this year with a full study on tap for release by 2014.

Todd Anderson, a professor in the department of environmental toxicology and The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech, said the fluids used in fracking present some uncertainties.

“It’s primarily water,” he said. “A huge percent of it is water, but there are these other materials. … Then, there’s always the proprietary stuff. There’s some uncertainty there.”

Anderson believes some contamination from fracking fluids has seeped into groundwater, and it’s a result of the drilling technique.

But, he said, it would be erroneous to assume fracking is going to lead to groundwater contamination. It’s more of a process problem.

But enough is enough on regulation, some say.…

December 19, 2011

Natural Gas Drilling – In Marcellus Shale, Fracking Regulations May Center on Wastewater Disposal

Source:, December 17, 2011
By: Ashley Portero

While hydraulic fracturing has been employed in Western states for years by oil and gas companies seeking to extract valuable natural gas from deep within the ground, the controversial process has remained largely unregulated while simultaneously coming under scrutiny due to concerns about its potentially harmful effects on both the environment and human health.

Marcellus Shale: Large, Valuable, Unconventional Natural Gas Reserves

However, as drilling companies eye the East Coasts’ bountiful Marcellus Shale as its next frontier for hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking,” state officials and citizens groups have responded with a bustle of proposed statutory and regulatory frameworks designed to address the many concerns surrounding the extraction process.

The Marcellus Shale is a unit of marine sedimentary rock extending through much of the Appalachian Basin — encompassing sections of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Ohio — containing largely untapped natural gas reserves. Energy companies claim the shale is a valuable source of clean-burning fuel and insist employing hydraulic fracturing in the region would create American jobs while also decreasing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil sources.…

December 13, 2011

The Trouble Within

Source: Best’s Review, December 1, 2011
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Pollution claims are driving up premium costs, especially in Marcellus Shale country.

The energy potential being unlocked from shale beds beneath North America continues to fuel new volumes of exposure and specialized coverage needs.

As advancements continue in the hydraulic fracturing method used to create and access man-made reservoirs of natural gas a mile underground, so do concerns about defending against pollution claims.

Anticipation is building over how the federal government will reach accord between natural gas interests and those clamoring about fracking’s threat to groundwater quality.

Yet caught in the void is a coverage gap that leaves insureds without access to legal defense costs for gradual seepage-over-time claims – a growing source of costly litigation that has spurred a niche segment.

Jeffrey Hanneman, director of Aon Environmental Services Group, said customers were calling four or five times a week looking for this coverage. He said most markets were interested on an excess basis at a $10 million or $20 million limit in a tower, but only a handful would get involved on a primary basis.

There was no relying on operators’ extra expense coverage because it did not address pollution liability, except from a blowout; the casualty side of traditional programs would typically only cover sudden or accidental type issues.

Hanneman said that specialty insurer Ironshore helped fill a void by making an existing basic environmental policy more specific to the oil and gas industry The SPILLS Oil & Gas form covers pollution risks from onshore production.…

August 1, 2011

The New “F” Word: “Fraccidental” Insurance Headaches

Source:, July 29, 2011
By: Gina Jones, Ivy Riggs

Fracking: Understanding the opportunities & challenges of the latest environmental liability exposures

As the pace of change continues to increase at an exponential rate, many may find it challenging to keep up with yesterday’s trendy slang, much less that of today or tomorrow. So you might not raise an eyebrow to hear college students across the nation singing lyrics about how their drinking water is totally fracked.

Could mean anything, right?

However, when it’s no longer the hip 20-something talking, but rather your clients’ top executives who are demanding to know “What the frack is going on,” it’s time to arm yourself with the knowledge to answer their concerns.


If you visit the online glossary of a leading oilfield services firm, you may not find the term “fracking,” despite it being in common use among both industry experts and laymen alike. What you will find is the term from which it derives: hydraulic fracturing.

This process involves both horizontal and vertical drilling into our nation’s shale formations. The wellbore is then injected with specially engineered fluids at sufficiently high pressure to fracture the deposits and release the natural gas they contain.

These deposits are so extensive that they are anticipated to produce 20 percent of our total domestic gas supply by the end of this decade, according to the latest estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.…

February 15, 2011

Diesel-fuel is the cause of Whitesburg water contamination, official says

Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), February 14, 2011
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For the third time in less than three years, Childers Oil in Whitesburg has been tied to pollution that shut down the city’s water system.

Residents smelled petroleum in their tap water Saturday morning, and the municipal treatment plant was immediately shut down. On Monday, after testing and searching all weekend, officials determined that diesel fuel had leaked down a ditch line from the Childers Oil bulk plant upstream from the water treatment plant, said state Division of Water spokeswoman Allison Fleck.

Workers drilled concrete at the plant Monday afternoon, trying to determine precisely which pipe or tank was leaking.

“It was a miniscule amount,” Childers Oil owner Don Childers told the Herald-Leader Monday. “We’re working on it. We haven’t pinpointed a source. For all we know it could have been (someone else) dumping in the ditch line.”

Childers Oil donated pallets of water to be distributed to customers of Whitesburg’s water system.…