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Fracking is neither safe nor harmless to the environment

I take objection to letter writer David Vanko's claims about the use hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and gas ("Fracking hasn't caused a spike in earthquakes," July 11).

If Mr. Vanko had actually looked at the reporting by the U.S. National Resource Council cited in his commentary, he would have drawn very different conclusions.

In a report entitled "Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies," the council noted that in January of 2011, hydraulic fracturing in a well in Eola, Okla., caused 50 earthquakes within a two-mile radius of the drilling site during the first 24 hours of drilling.

These earthquakes ranged in intensity from 1. 0 to 2.8 on the Richter scale and were large enough to be felt.

I personally experienced the same thing in eastern Ohio between 2011 and early 2012. Residents noted no fewer than 11 earthquakes following hydraulic fracturing in their area, all within a radius of about 2 miles. And residents of western Pennsylvania have also reported contaminated wells near drilling sites as well as seismic activity.

This is no coincidence. Normally, these are areas that do not have seismic activity. They are places where people never worried about earthquakes.

It's easy to turn a blind eye to things that don't happen in one's own back yard. But it is quite different when you live in areas of increased hydraulic fracturing. And more such sites are being planned because the companies engaged in fracking say it's safe and harmless to the environment.

It is not. The U.S. National Research Council stresses the need for more research to "advance the understanding of induced seismicity ... [and] identify gaps in induced seismic hazard assessment methodologies." But considering the data that is already out there, hydraulic fracturing should be ended immediately. We all have a great deal to lose if this continues.

Barbara McNamara, Aberdeen

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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