Jeanne Simonelli: Prepare for suits

March 9, 2013 

Prepare for suits

As a Wilmington resident and environmental anthropologist, I am disturbed at North Carolina’s lack of attention to environmental and health issues surrounding fracking. New York State just extended its moratorium on drilling; its regulatory document eclipses all others, but is not enough.

Ohio is studying the dangers of deep injection of fracking waste, as your March 5 story outlined for our coastal communities. Injection into our changing coastal land mass is an enduring danger. Ongoing studies confirm the relationship between seismic events and injection, and our own history indicates the way chemical pollutants leach into soils.

Frack “flowback” includes a chemical and mineral cocktail, plus radioactive brines that come from deep below the ground. An ongoing Duke study of the effects of brine in coal extraction shows that nothing grows in those soils.

The short-term payoff of an energy economic boom-bust cycle will not counter the long-term implications of injection or drilling. Even a 10 percent reduction in coastal tourism and home ownership due to fear of potential pollution will have a lasting effect on the region’s economy.

The literature and evidence are mounting against the fracking process. Rest assured that 30 years from now, the state will be paying huge sums to injured parties, just as the tobacco industry did.

Dr. Jeanne Simonelli


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