'Fracking' procedure accused of polluting California groundwater

Thursday, August 14, 2014
'Fracking' accused of polluting groundwater
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Questions are being raised about whether it's polluting groundwater, and how much water is used during the statewide drought.

LOS ANGELES -- There has been a lot of controversy about the oil-extraction procedure known as "fracking." Now more questions are being raised about how much water is used for fracking, and whether it's polluting groundwater.

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has been used for nearly 60 years to get oil out of the ground using water pressure to fracture rock underground. Then the oil and gas that's trapped in the rock escapes and comes out of a well.

Some people think it is too dangerous. Opponents also say the industry is wasting water at a time when there is a serious drought.

"The oil industry in California is currently polluting over 2 million gallons of water each and every day due to fracking," said Brenna Norton, Californians Against Fracking founder.

The oil industry denies that, saying it uses less water in one well than a golf course does in one single day.

"In 2013, the average amount of water used in a hydraulic fracturing in California was only 127,127 gallons per well," said Tupper Hull, vice president of strategic communications, Western States Petroleum Association, in a statement.

The group says a study in 2012 of fracking in the Baldwin Hills area showed no impacts to groundwater.

"Fracking not only uses millions of gallons of water, it turns them into a toxic sludge, which then gets shoved underground where it can contaminate even more groundwater," said L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz.

"(Water) is either re-injected back into its original location or recycled. In some regions, the petroleum industry cleans produced water and makes it available to local farmers and growers," said Hull in the statement.

Some groups are also asking Governor Jerry Brown and others to stop all fracking in the state. So far the governor has said officials need more time to study whether fracking does indeed pose a danger to California's water supply.