TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An environmental group alleges that companies using the oil and gas drilling method hydraulic fracturing in four wells in Kansas have used chemicals that can cause cancer.
Industry representatives on Wednesday denied the allegations in a report issued by the Environmental Integrity Project, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
The report examined the use of diesel, kerosene and similar hydrocarbons in fracking around the country. The report’s author, Mary Green, said 351 wells in 12 states used diesel without a water quality permit between 2011 and July 2014. She said chemicals within diesel have been shown to cause cancer and damage to the nervous system.
Two wells in Harper County and two in Grant County used diesel or similar products during hydraulic fracturing, according to the report.
“This is first and foremost a public health issue,” Green said.
Katie Brown, a spokeswoman for Energy in Depth, a program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the industry protects public health, and permits for using kerosene weren’t required when most of the wells were in use.
“There has never been a single case of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing, whether diesel fuel was used or not,” she said in a written response. “This would be like if officials reduced the speed limit, and then accused drivers of speeding because of how fast they drove before the change.”
The Harper County wells cited in the report were owned by the Shell Oil Co., which used petroleum hydrocarbon oil as a thickening agent in oil extraction, according to the report. A company spokeswoman referred to Shell’s principles for on-shore drilling, which included a commitment to protect groundwater and to construct and operate wells safely. Shell ended drilling in Kansas in 2013.
The Grant County wells, owned by Pioneer Natural Resources, used kerosene in gas extraction. Tadd Owens, vice president of government affairs for Pioneer, said those wells were in use only in 2011, and the company replaced kerosene with non-hydrocarbon chemicals after the Environmental Protection Agency issued guidance on the issue. Owens estimated Pioneer used about 10 gallons of kerosene in every 1 million gallons of injected fluids.
Pioneer sold its Kansas wells earlier this year.
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