Thursday, April 07, 2016

W.Va. fracking wastewater contaminates New River with compounds harmful to fish, study says

A study published Wednesday in the journal Science of the Total Environment found that water around and downstream from a hydraulic-fracturing wastewater-disposal facility in Fayetteville, W.Va., contains high levels of compounds that may harm the endocrine systems of fish, Brian Bienkowski reports for Environmental Health News. "Contamination seems to affect the reproductive development of some fish species, which can lead to threatened populations. In recent years researchers are finding more 'intersex' fish—male fish with some female reproductive parts—and believe the culprit is endocrine-disrupting chemicals in water."

"Researchers collected water upstream, downstream and around a wastewater facility that has a disposal well, holding ponds and storage tanks—all used to house excess wastewater from drilling," Bienkowski writes. "There is a small stream flowing through the site, which flows into Wolf Creek. Wolf Creek flows into the New River, which is used for some people’s drinking water. Samples near the site and downstream had 'considerably higher' activity for a number of hormones, including estrogen, androgen and thyroid receptors, than reference samples in the watershed far from any disposal sites."

Industry officials criticized the study, "saying that the concentrations of compounds found do not warrant health concerns," Bienkowski writes. Seth Whitehead, a researcher at Energy In Depth, an outreach program launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, told Bienkowski that endocrine-disrupting chemicals “are found in just about everything we use on a day-to-day basis, including dyes, perfumes, plastics, personal care products, detergents and cleaning agents. Concentration level is far more relevant than merely detecting EDCs." (Read more)

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