Imagine waking up one morning and having no safe water at all. In a recent radio program about Peak Water, Maude Barlow said: The day will come–mark my words–when every single thing we do will be measured against what it does to water. For people in Midland, Texas, that day is here.
Hexavalent Chromium contamination is spreading in the groundwater used by some Midland, Texas residents and environmental investigators say the mounting evidence points to the oil and gas industry. Affected residents say they have proof that hydraulic fracture giant Schlumberger is responsible.
Erin Brockovich was in Midland investigating and her team is still in Midland. (video)
“The only difference between here and Hinkley,” Brockovich said, “is that I saw higher levels here than I saw in Hinkley.”
In 2005, at the urging of Dick Cheney, former Halliburton CEO, Congress exempt hydraulic fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This exemption is commonly known as the Halliburton Loophole because Halliburton earns about 1.5 billion annually from hydraulic fracturing. The exemption allows hydraulic fracture giants like Halliburton and Schlumberger, to keep the chemicals they use secret.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process where 1 to 5 million gallons of potable water, mixed with chemicals and sand are pumped under pressure down the drilling hole to release the gas trapped deep in the earth. According to Victor Carrillo, Railroad Commission of Texas, 90% of all U.S. oil and gas wells undergo hydraulic fracturing to stimulate the production of oil and gas.
Schlumberger denies responsibility and denies use of hexavalent chromium although it is commonly used in hydraulic fracturing compounds. 3M Oil and Gas even offers protective gear (page 5) to protect oil field workers from exposure to hexavalent chromium in hydraulic fracturing fluid.
Bob Bowcock, an environmental engineer investigating the Midland County contamination with Brockovich said, “The culprit is definitely oilfield activity.” In an earlier statement to Big 2 News in Midland, Bowcock said Brockovich investigators have “evidence” that Schlumberger is to blame.