Homepage Water News

Detroit Shutting Off water 34 Schools

“It’s sending the message to students, parents and employees that we really don’t care about public education in Detroit, that we allow for second-class citizenry in Detroit,” Vitti said then. “And that hurts my heart and it angers me and it frustrates me that I can’t fix it right now.”Nikolai Vitti, is the superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District. Read more.

Backyard Talk

Depression, A New Side Effect of Fracking — Pennsylvanians who live near fracking are more likely to be depressed

By: Sharon Franklin
July 29, 2018
Stress and depression are higher among those living closest to more and bigger wells.
People who live near unconventional natural gas operations such as fracking are more likely to experience depression, according to a new study, by Joan A. Casey, Holly C. Wilcox, Annemarie G. Hirsch, Jonathan Pollak and  Brian S. Schwartz  “Associations of unconventional natural gas development with depression symptoms and disordered sleep in Pennsylvania” .
Background:  The Study is the first of its kind published in Scientific Reports.  The University of California at Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University Researched reviewed the rates of depression in nearly 5,000 adults living in southwestern Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale region in 2015.
They found that people living near fracking-related operations are more likely to be depressed than the general population, and that stress and depression went up among people living closest to more and bigger natural gas wells. One of the study’s co-authors, Joan Casey stated “Previously we’ve looked at the links between unconventional natural gas development and things like asthma exacerbations, migraine headaches and fatigue. The next step was thinking about mental health, because we had a lot of anecdotal reports of sleep disturbances and psychosocial stress related to unconventional natural gas development.”
At the end of 2015, 9,669 wells had been drilled in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale.  By 2016, the region led the nation in shale gas production. There have been other small sample studies on the links between fracking and depression, however, this is the first to investigate a link between the two using a validated survey among a larger population. The researchers in this study compared data on the number of wells, the phase of extraction, and the volume of production in order to group residents into categories of “very low,” “low,” “medium,” and “high” levels of exposure to fracking operations.  To assess the severity of depression symptoms, the researchers utilized a patient health questionnaire that included questions such as, “How often have you been bothered by feeling down, depressed, hopeless?
The Study’s Results:  Dr. Casey noted that the greatest increases in rates of depression occurred among people with mild to moderate symptoms living near high-volume fracking operations.  She states “People in the highest group of exposure were 1.5 times more likely to have mild depression symptoms than those in very low exposure group.
Casey added “Based on our observations, it seems like living near unconventional natural gas development may not cause an increase in diagnoses of severe major depressive disorders but might exacerbate symptoms in those with mild or moderate depression and create some depression and stress in otherwise healthy people.”
The researchers minimized over reporting by not informing the subjects that the study was related to fracking.
While that strengthened the study’s results, Casey pointed out that it also limited their ability to examine the causes of depression in those living near fracking operations.
 “Some people in these communities might have positive associations with natural gas extraction.”

  • “Maybe they’re leasing their land and getting economic benefits, so it’s actually lessening their symptoms,
  • while others may only be getting exposures and have concerns about its health impacts, which could be worsening their symptoms.”

Additionally, the researchers reviewed electronic health records to determine whether there was an increase in physician-diagnosed sleep disorders or prescriptions for sleep aids in the region but did not observe an increase in those instances associated with proximity to fracking operations.
Unanswered questions  ???
The study addressed whether exposure to the chemicals being released into the environment could play a role in the increase of depression symptoms among those living near unconventional natural gas operations.
Casey said “I think we’ve probably now done enough epidemiological studies showing the links between unconventional natural gas extraction and health.”.

  1.  “The next step will be to tease apart what our exposure pathways are.”
  2.  “Is this being caused by air pollution and volatile organic compounds?
  3.  “Is it more about perception and psychosocial stressors than actual exposure?”

 Casey concluded that they don’t know the answers to these questions, and to be able to move forward, they will have to start unraveling those mysteries.
Visit this link to learn more.


Safe Drinking Water Settlement $365,000

Under a settlement announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), CertainTeed Corporation will pay $365,500 in civil penalties to resolve alleged violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) at the CertainTeed Lake Charles Polymer Plant in Westlake, Louisiana. The settlement requires the largest civil penalty payment under the Safe Drinking Water Act by a public water system with respect to drinking water in the state of Louisiana. Read more…

Water News

Higher rates of cancer, illnesses Hoosick Falls drinking water – PFOA exposure

Elevated levels of PFOA were found in the village of Hoosick Falls public water system in 2014. The state Health Department and village officials were later criticized because they waited roughly 16 months — and faced pressure from the EPA — before they warned the public to stop drinking the water. Read more.


Fracking Industry’s Water Use Rises

Water use for fracking by oil and gas operators in the Marcellus Shale region rose 20 percent between 2011 and 2016 as longer laterals were drilled to fracture more gas-bearing rock, even though the pace of well development slowed in response to low natural gas prices, a Duke University study said on Wednesday.
The rise was the smallest of any of the six U.S. regions studied, including the Permian Basin area of Texas, where water use surged by 770 percent over the period.
The study also said the volume of fracking waste water produced in the Marcellus – which includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia, eastern Ohio and southern New York, where fracking is banned — rose four-fold to 600,000 gallons in 2016, forcing energy companies to rely increasingly on holding the waste in underground injection wells. Read more.

Water News

Is Nuclear Neighbor Polluting Our Water?

Pollution tied to infant deaths and cancer in adults has shown up for decades in the groundwater beneath a nuclear fuel factory less than two miles from Michael Daugherty’s house.The uranium leak in Hopkins, South Carolina occurred in June. It was reported to state and federal authorities on July 12, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Mildred Myers, a Gadsden resident, said she is glad DHEC is investigating, but that she always has been worried about the Westinghouse plant. The recent spill only reinforces her concerns, said Myers, a founder of the Lower Richland community group, S.C. Environment Watch.

“They always say they have got it under control and they are doing this or that. But they really have not done anything yet that is very efficient at cleaning things up,’’ Myers said. “So many things have occurred and things have not really gotten better.’’  Read more.

Backyard Talk

Is your child ready for school? What’s in the school’s water?

As parents we are concerned that our children have all they need for school. We go to the store with our list of supplies in hand that was provided by this year’s teachers. Stand in line with screaming children, irritated and tired parents. But we get through it.
There is an assumption that the school is safe. That the air and drinking water will not harm the children but rather foster a healthy environment to learn and play.
But what if that is wrong?  I asked a friend recently if their children’s school tested the water for lead. She said I received a letter from the school that said the water was safe, so I’m feeling pretty good.
As it turns out the school used the testing results for the city water as evidence of safety. Just because the water leaves the city treatment plant clean and safe does not ensure that when it comes out of the faucet at school it’s clean. So many people are duped by this assertion of safety.
Where the water moves from the city service line into the school feeder line(s) those lines could be made of lead and contaminate the water. Or, inside the school plumbing could be lead pipes, lead solder, or other lead related plumbing fixtures.
So, to find out if your child’s school water is safe from lead you need to test every faucet. Has your school conducted that level of testing?  Probably not. It’s easy to do and yes it costs money but far less than it would cost if children were exposed and became sick.
No level of lead is exposure is safe for children. We need to protect our children from lead that can cause learning delays, especially in their schools.
Children are required to attend school, but schools aren’t required to test that their water is safe for children to drink! It is outrageous that in a country like the United States there is no federal law that requires schools to test the quality of their water at each discharge location.
That’s why we need a national bill that requires schools to test their water and protect the health of our children where they are trying to learn. Senator Duckworth (IL) has proposed a bill that would require schools to test their water, share results with communities, and fund projects that replace lead pipes or provide filters.
The Get the Lead Out of Schools Act mandates all schools to test for lead in their water and provides action grants to fix any contamination. Protect our children—contact your federal senators and make sure they support the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act when it goes to the Senate Floor.

Superfund News

Birmingham Alabama Needs Superfund Now

While the EPA’s decision not to place the North Birmingham Alabama 35th Avenue Alternatives Superfund site on the NPL was disappointing to many in the community, it was perhaps understandable given the strong vocal opposition with the state. It is now abundantly clear, as evidenced by the July 19, 2018 convictions of a former state legislator, a business executive and attorney on a number of federal charges including conspiracy, wire fraud and bribery, that the EPA’s initial public review process was undermined by an illegal misinformation scheme to prevent the North Birmingham site from being added to the NPL. Being listed provides more opportunities for citizen participation, grants and hard deadlines for action.
Jimmy Smith has lived in Collegeville all of his life.  At 85 years old he’s seen the community during it highs and lows. He’s lived side by side with contamination from what was the life blood of the community: the steel industry. He suspected something wasn’t right when three members of his family, himself included, were diagnosed with various cancers. Smith said, “It just so happened out of my four daughters, two of them had cancer.  My oldest daughter, the preacher of the family, the good Lord called her home as a result of the cancer.”  Read more.

Water News

Puerto Ricans Don’t Trust Drinking Water

Ten months after Maria hit water quality still seems inconsistent, and local residents aren’t taking any chances.  “The water comes out of the tap white, and sometimes dark and dirty, with particles in it,” Marta Rivera said. “Before the hurricane, the water wasn’t like that. My house was full of water; it smelled really bad. Me, my son, my aunt and even the doctor here have got sick in some way. It’s made me a little paranoid. Traumatized.”
Read more.


Kentucky Coal Company’s Sweetheart Deal

Conservationists say Kentucky regulators rubber-stamped the utility’s own plans, (Big Rivers Electric Corporation) insulated it from citizen’s lawsuits and neglected to assess the complete environmental impact of the pollution.
“To me that’s the bigger story, it’s not whether there’s a nominal fine or not. It’s the fact that there’s no indication the company is being required to do a full accounting for what the impacts are of this pollution or fully address the pollution at its source,” said Thom Cmar, an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy non-profit.
But the agreed order doesn’t require Big Rivers to assess groundwater impacts. “If it’s in those seeps it’s also getting into the groundwater in other ways and a much larger survey of the site needs to be done to determine what the full scope of the problem is and what the impacts are,” Cmar said.  Read more.