From MLAWD member Cindy Vigneron, Delton
Industry advertises and MDEQ proclaims deep drilling–whether for fracking or hazardous waste injection wells–is safe. However, these glib assurances are based on the unverified assumption that deep rock layers are impermeable and well casings will last forever.
Respected geologists and engineers point out that long-term deep well integrity is a serious problem; well casings are nearly certain to fail sooner or later; some already have, creating the risk that injected hazardous substances, along with dangerous gases and radiation that nature had locked safely away from us, can make their way up from deep layers via geological anomalies and out of failed casings towards or into groundwater and surface air.
MLAWD board member Karen Fifelski understands this danger well. “I’m a farmer’s wife and I see how fast cement cracks and crumbles, and I’ve picked enough rocks to know that the earth moves; that’s not helping either the steel or the cement of those casings.”
Yet, with the blessing of MDEQ and Michigan politicians, we already have over 1,000 waste injection wells bored into Michigan bedrock, with industry plans for many more thousands. As for deep hydraulic fracturing wells for oil/gas production, Michigan is the current bulls eye on the fracking target. In fact, exploratory wells or dry frack wells might be converted to waste injection wells.
With MDEQ unquestioningly issuing production and high volume water permits, it is only the current low market price of natural gas that’s still applying the brake. That price is beginning to inch up again towards where industry wants to see it. Industry already has in hand more than 50 Michigan deep fracking permits, with the production pace accelerating.
Pro Publica reports (http://www.propublica.org/article/injection-wells-the-poison-beneath-us), that in 220,000 inspections performed nationally from 2007 through late 2010, one in six injection wells had documented integrity problems. More than 7,000 of these showed evidence of well walls leaking. Because both fracking and injection wells rely on essentially the same technology, they also create the same dangers.
Michigan citizens must be proactive and educate themselves and their representatives about this silent, buried danger. When it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind—until it isn’t; and shows up again in our water, soils and air.