Cincinnati has joined hundreds of US communities in banning fracking, as more data emerges about the potential risks that the practice poses to drinking water.
The unanimous vote by the Cincinnati City Council bans the zoning of fracking injection well sites within the city limits. It came in response to citizens' concerns about landslides, earthquakes and other harmful environmental side effects that have been associated with disposal wells.
Cincinnati's move echoes similar measures from hundreds of communities in California, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming, Vermont and Virginia.
For a list of communities that have taken action against fracking.
The citizen's advocacy coalition, Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum, is now calling for a statewide ban on fracking throughout the state.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) expects to permit more than 2,250 fracking wells by 2015, reports EcoWatch. The shallow sandstone around Cincinnati makes the area attractive for wastewater injection wells. Injection of fracking wastewater into a disposal well in Youngstown was determined to be the cause of at least 11 earthquakes.
Vermont banned fracking on a statewide level, and New Jersey lawmakers recently banned treatment or storage activities. New York residents have been working hard to pass a statewide ban. In mid-June, Governor Cuomo was leaning toward allowing fracking only in towns that want it, and only in several impoverished counties where the Marcellus Shale is deepest (2,000 feet), which would reduce the risk of groundwater contamination. The Marcellus region extends from New York to West Virginia.
So far, more than 100 New York communities have passed ordinances prohibiting the practice; in July 2012, the two of Wilson, New York, became the latest one to add its name to that list, banning both fracking and the import of the toxic wastewater that is used in the process. It is the second town in Niagara County to take action.
“This measure was taken as a precaution to protect the natural resources of the Wilson community,” says Bernie Leiker, a Wilson Village trustee Bernie. “Wilson has always been a farming, fishing and boating community set on the shores of Lake Ontario, a natural resource worthy of our protection. The Village Board is strongly against any fracking in our community and in any community in New York or the surrounding states."
New Data on Pollution Risks
The latest community bans on fracking come as more data emerges about risks to rivers and drinking water associated with the disposal of contaminated wastewater.
The risks are enough to justify new regulations and other measures to reduce against contamination from salts and radioactive elements including uranium, radium and radon, according to an August 2012 paper published by the Society for Risk Analysis.
Reports EcoWatch: "Even in a best case scenario, an individual well would potentially release at least 200 cubic meters of contaminated fluids," write scientists Daniel Rozell and Sheldon Reaven in their paper, "Water Pollution Risk Associated with Natural Gas Extraction from the Marcellus Shale."
Rozell is a doctoral student and Reaven is an associate professor at Stony Brook University.
The EPA has been investigating the risks of fracking contamination in groundwater for years, and its research has detected that synthetic chemicals commonly used in fracking, as well as hydrocarbons, benzene and methane levels well exceed Safe Drinking Water Act standards.
Nationwide Insurance recently became the first major insurance company to say it will not cover damages related to natural gas fracking operations, pointing to the potential risks.
For more on the new fracking risks research: