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Hazards of fracking deserve closer look

In an article about natural gas drilling ("Md. environment chief wants more U.S. oversight of fracking," April 13), The Sun's John Fritze reports that to "extract natural gas through fracking, companies use millions of gallons of liquids," but that explanation is inadequate. Anyone interested in information about fracking for gas extraction should watch the HBO documentary, "Gasland," or drive up to Bradford County, Penn. and see the devastating results of this process.

Toxic chemicals are pumped into the ground with water and sand to force the gas up. Sixty-five of the chemicals used are considered dangerous to human health. Water buffalos sit on properties where the wells have been contaminated with methane and other toxic substances. Some homes must be "vented out" when the methane inside becomes dangerously high. Property values of homes with contaminated wells have plummeted in Bradford County. Tanker trucks carrying water to the gas extraction sites and removing the contaminated water for disposal travel 24/7 through the area.

Contaminated well water is not safe to drink and is too polluted for bathing, cooking, laundry, etc. Home owners are responsible for the cost of testing well water. These tests are not the standard tests and costs between $500 and $1,000. The gas company supplies water to the residents with contaminated wells, but will not claim responsibility for the contamination. Methane has been observed bubbling in the Susquehanna River around Sugar Run, which eventually empties into the Chesapeake Bay.

The Halliburton Loophole, part of the Bush Administration's 2005 Energy Bill, stripped the EPA of its authority to enforce the Clean Water Act by exempting the energy companies. Besides restoring authority to the EPA, it's time to invest in clean energy.

Janet Stringer, Havre de Grace

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