US company TestAmerica, a member of the industry group Marcellus Shale Coalition, is being sued by landowners who claim that the company faked the result of water testing to produce favourable results for the fracking industry.
Susan Phillips at State Impact explains that the lawsuit against the company over its work for fracking company Range Resources claims that:
“the company allowed the gas driller to alter a print out of the test results, which Range then submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP used the altered results, in part, to conclude that the Washington County residents’ drinking water was safe, and passed on the lab results to the residents.”
In 2010, fracking waste leaked from six impoundment tanks, penetrating soil and groundwater. Range Resources brought in TestAmerica to check whether any contaminated waste fracking fluids had found their way into drinking water. The results of the tests found that there was no contamination. However, the landowners allege that the company omitted key findings that would have led to a different outcome:
“Had the Voyles [the landowners] gotten the full results back in 2011, they would have learned that their water had concentrations of nitrate exceeding recommended levels that could result in severe health effects. The test results sent to DEP by Range also left out the presence of semi-volatile compounds such as butyl benzyl phthalate, di-n-octyl phthalate, and pyrene. The EPA tests found naphthalene, phenanthrene, 2-methylnapthalene, flouranthene, silicon, as well as uranium.”
Although this – and other – law suits against scientists employed by the fracking industry seem distant from these shores, it is worth considering that much of the evidence presented to British authorities in favour of fracking is based on the same US test results. It may yet turn out that much of the evidence that has prompted the UK government and some UK councils to promote fracking is actually fraudulent.