A new government study found that a 2007 fracking fluid spill in Kentucky killed off several species of fish, including two that were classified as “threatened.” Some of the surviving fish developed gill lesions, liver damage and spleen damage.
“Our study is a precautionary tale of how entire populations
could be put at risk even with small-scale [fracking] fluid
spills,” lead author Diana Papoulias wrote in a news release.
The study, which was conducted by the US Geological Survey and
the US Fish and Wildlife Service, studied water samples and the
bodies of the exposed fish to determine the effects of fracking
chemicals on their health.
The study was based on a fracking fluid spill that occurred at
the Acorn Fork Creek in southeastern Kentucky in the mid-2007.
Nami Resources Company, an oil and gas exploration company,
spilled the fluids into the creek, which killed nearly all
aquatic life in direct exposure to the substances.
Narrow stream flows were contaminated with hydrochloric acid and
other chemicals used for fracking. Water supplies were polluted
and numerous species of fish suffered “a significant
die-off,” the USGS announced on Wednesday. The
fluids killed significant numbers of Blackside dace, a threatened
species of ray-finned fish endemic to Kentucky, Tennessee and
Virginia. The Creek chub and the Green sunfish also experienced a
Surviving fish exposed to the chemicals developed gill lesions
and suffered from liver and spleen damage, the study found. These
symptoms mirror those experienced by fish exposed to acidic water
and toxic concentrations of heavy metals, the USGS reports.
The fracturing fluids dropped the creek’s pH levels from 7.5 to
5.6 and increased stream conductivity from 200 to 35,000
microsiemens per centimeter.
The report’s authors note that it is important to examine the
effects of fracking fluids on fish to determine how it might
affect people. Tierra Curry, a scientist at the Center for
Biological Diversity, said in a press release that the Kentucky
spill demonstrates “the growing threat that fracking poses to
endangered species, public health and drinking water supplies
across much of the country.”
“These species use the same water as we do, so it is just as
important to keep our waters clean for people and for
wildlife,” co-author Tony Velasco said. “This is an
example of how the smallest creatures can act as a canary in a
Across the Appalachian Mountains, numerous waterways are already
polluted with metals and acid from coal mine operations, and more
than 20 studies have linked public health problems to this
contamination, the Center for Biological Diversity reports. Curry
believes that fracking will only add more harmful chemicals to
the water supply, potentially endangering Americans who live near
hydraulic fracturing sites.
“Replacing coal mining with fracking is a jump from the frying
pan into the fire,” Curry said. “We’ve simply got to
figure out how to move away from these dirty fossil fuels that
are threatening the lives of people and endangered species.”
Republished from: RT