Paul Hetzler a former employee from the Department for Environmental Conservation (DEC) warned that the controversial gas drilling process hydraulic fracking poses a serious risk to the city’s drinking water supplies.

In a letter printed recently in the Watertown Daily Times he writes: “Hydraulic fracturing as its practiced today will contaminate our aquifers.

“Not might contaminate our aquifers. hydraulic fracturing will contaminate New York’s aquifers. If you were looking for a way to poison the drinking water supply, here in the Northeast you couldn’t find a more chillingly effective and thorough method of doing so than with hydraulic fracturing.”

Furthermore, a draft report issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in November 2011 looking at the full cycle of water in hydraulic fracking found evidence linking fracking to water pollution for the first time. Initial findings from the report will be published in 2012, while a final report of the results is set for release in 2014.

Environmentalists have welcomed the findings of the report, which is being carried out under the direction of congress, saying it marks a “turning point” in the argument against fracking.

In the UK, in November and December 2011 an anti-fracking group protested at Cuadrilla’s gas fracking site in the north of England after it admitted its works had caused two small earthquakes.

Meanwhile, Mr Hetzler said his work looking at contaminated groundwater concluded that fracking well seals often fail causing water contamination. “There’s no such thing as a perfect well seal. Occasionally sooner, often later, well seals can and do fail, period”.

He added: “When contamination occurs–and it will occur– we will all pay for it, regardless of where we live. Proving responsibility for groundwater contamination is difficult, costly and time-consuming, and while corporate lawyers drag out proceedings for years, everyone’s taxes will pay for the subsurface investigations, the whole-house filtration systems, the unending lab analyses.”

According to UK hydraulic fracking company Cuadrilla, in the US bad practice by a small number of operators “may have led to some isolated and short-term incidents of water contamination”.

However, on its website it states: “these are the exception” and that it “wants to avoid any risk of this happening in the UK”, adding that its water supply from United Utilities is stored in clean steel tanks ahead of hydraulic fracturing operations and is tested by the Environment Agency before use.

Carys Matthews

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