WASHINGTON, DC –  U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) has joined Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in introducing legislation to establish basic health protections that must be met when gas companies use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract underground natural gas.  The large number of gas drilling operations in Pennsylvania’s Delaware River Valley could threaten the source of drinking water for millions of New Jersey residents.

“There have been too many reports of contamination by fracking operations to let the practice continue without better oversight,” stated Sen. Lautenberg.  “When it comes to our drinking water, safety must be the top priority.  People have a right to know if chemicals are being injected into the ground near their homes and potentially ending up in the water supply.  This bill will ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency has the tools to assess the risks of fracking and require appropriate protections so that drinking water in New Jersey and other states is safe.”

The “Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act,” introduced in the Senate yesterday, would:

  • amend the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) definition of “underground injection” to include the underground injection of fluids used for hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil and gas production activities; and
  • require public disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracturing process.

The fracking process involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into underground rock formations to blast them open and release natural gas.  Fracking chemicals themselves can be hazardous, and the process can release naturally-occurring hazardous substances such as arsenic, mercury, as well as other heavy metals and radioactive materials from underground.  The drilling wastewater, which has been found to contain radioactive substances, is often released into rivers that supply drinking water.