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NBC is reporting this morning on their website that government safety officials and others have discovered another major safety issue in fracking, the process of drilling deep into the earth to blow up rock formations to release natural gas.
The new major safety gap is unregulated gathering lines in rural areas. The gathering lines are pipelines that carry the gas to longer transmission lines or to production facilities.
In populated areas gathering lines are regulated. In rural areas there is absolutely no regulation. Rural residents are asked to sign permission for the gathering lines to cross their property, in at least one case for $25,000. Once the form is signed, the company is free to lay the line wherever they want–including very close to homes of the landowners.
Government officials are now saying that since gathering lines are essentially the same as transmission lines, that they should be regulated as well.
The Marcellus Shale underneath parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia produces about 40 percent of the natural gas fracked in the United States. Environmental and human rights activists, in part led by Elizabeth Arnold, have been campaigning hard for the suspension of natural gas fracking until all safety issues are resolved.
Natural gas is a notoriously volatile and dangerous fuel. A natural gas explosion in San Bruno, California in 2010 killed eight people and blew up 40 homes. A young man named CJ Bevins was killed in New York State while drilling for natural gas.
Fracking releases a host of dangerous substances that can seep into ground, and poison water wells and other supplies of drinking water.