Environmental Watchdog Cautions against Use of Benzene in Fracking

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Environmental Watchdog Cautions against Use of Benzene in FrackingAn environmental regulator has warned that some companies using fracking to extract oil and gas that is trapped underground are using benzene, a carcinogenic compound.

While it isn’t illegal to use benzene in fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, the use of diesel is controlled as authorities believe it may contain cancer-causing compounds such as benzene. Fracking firms must obtain a permit in order to include diesel in the mix that is pumped at high pressure into the shale rocks to break them to release the trapped hydrocarbons, reported Bloomberg News.

According to the Washington-based Environmental Integrity Project, more than six fracking fluid ingredients contain benzene in various proportions.

“While fracking fluids are injected into shale formations deep underground, even a small leak into a drinking water aquifer nearer the surface can be catastrophic,” said EIP in a report on Wednesday.

The Congress allowed fracking firms to be exempted from being subjected to the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005, a situation referred to as the “Halliburton loophole”. This is in reference to the major fracking firm Halliburton Co., which was headed by Richard Cheney, who was later to deputize President George Bush in 2000.

The law retained the oversight role of the EPA over fracking in case diesel is included in the fracking mixture, mostly due to the fact that benzene and other BTEX chemicals found in diesel were considered to be the biggest risk to drinking water.

Most companies rarely use diesel, though a few firms still do. The compound is usually used when the clay or shale rock retains water. To register for a free 2-week subscription to ForexMinute Premium Plan, visit www.forexminute.com/newsletter.

To contact the reporter of this story; Jonathan Millet at john@forexminute.com