I am a Nebraska citizen from Holt County. I grew up on a Sandhills ranch. I still enjoy our pure water straight from the Ogallala Aquifer, untreated and unfiltered. KXL’s first route was to cross just west of our private well, where, because of our high water table, it would have been laying in ground water. As an RN for almost 35 years, I am quite concerned about water contamination. Water is worth fighting for!

I grew up respecting our government and leaders. Through my KXL efforts, I’ve come to see a different government than what I thought I knew. Respect has been exchanged for distrust and disgust. The controlling interest is financial power, and a major player is the petroleum industry. I’ve always thought fracking would be much more threatening to our state than KXL and so I was devastated when I learned of the disposal well planned for western Nebraska, north of Mitchell.

Scotland, Ireland, France and The Netherlands are a few in a list of countries which have halted fracking. Vermont and New York have banned fracking. California and Maryland are pushing for a ban. Concerned Health Professionals of New York were among several entities that convinced their state to ban this extremely destructive practice. Health authorities in Colorado and Utah have expressed concern about adverse health impacts related to fracking, including increased infant mortality.

Nebraska is the most water-rich state in our country and fracking, along with disposal wells, is the No. 1 enemy to water. Please don’t believe industry lies claiming your water will be protected. The industry PR people pull off deceptive media tricks by using pleasant terms, such as calling the waste water “brine” or “salt water.” This water is so contaminated it can’t even be treated to be reusable! The high saline concentration is toxic in itself, but this fracking wastewater, mixed with sand, is loaded with toxic chemicals and is radioactive. Radium is released when the deep underground rocky shale is blasted apart and is flushed back up in the wastewater. An “injection well” or “disposal well” is much too nice a name for a toxic waste dump.

Industry lobbyists have made it easier for themselves by convincing Congress to include a provision known as the “Halliburton Loophole,” which exempts the fracking industry from major federal laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and parts of the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act. Companies are not required to disclose fracking chemicals because they claim the information is proprietary. But independent studies reveal very toxic concoctions with hormone-disrupting chemicals, which cause problems with fertility, the immune system, and the thyroid and also with a well-known potent carcinogen, benzene.

“Given the nature of the chemicals used in the fracking process, we may see increases in cancers, neurologic diseases, cardiac and respiratory diseases, and developmental disorders in coming years, but it will take time for these effects to show up,” said Gina Angiola, M.D., board member of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The plan is to actually drill through our Ogallala Aquifer to dump 10,000 barrels of waste daily. Water knows no boundaries. The toxic wastewater will only be separated from good water by a cement casing, which has notorious failure rates. Underground shifts from earthquakes would seem to only increase this failure rate.

Any water contamination on the western edge of the aquifer will eventually flow eastward with the natural directional flow of the aquifer. The ultimate worst location for an underground toxic wast e dump is on the western edge of the vast Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest fresh water aquifers in the world. This is a death sentence for Nebraska, which has the lion’s share of this precious resource. Imagine all those toxins migrating forever into the future, posing serious problems for future generations of Nebraskans. A monitoring well to test for leakage will only do that; there is no solution for cleaning up an aquifer. This is not a local issue, this is a public issue. This is absolutely insane. No common sense, only dollars and cents.

A U.S. Geological Survey study of pollution from oil production in North Dakota, where horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are heavily used, identified two potential plumes of groundwater contamination covering 12 square miles. The cause was traced to a casing failure in a wastewater disposal well. Drilling companies had incorrectly assumed that, once injected underground, the wastewater would remain contained.

Studies have continued to link underground injection of drilling wastewater to pollution as well as earthquakes.

Forcing gargantuan quantities of waste into the ground causes earthquakes, as has been happening across the country. Injection wells used for the disposal of liquid fracking waste have been implicated as causing a rash of earthquakes in Ohio, Texas and most of Oklahoma, and the frequency continues to increase. Earthquakes in turn will only cause further underground migration of toxins.

Northwestern Colorado already has 20,260 fracked wells in Weld County alone, blasting into the Niobrara Shale, which underlies corners of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. I foresee a big push to increase fracking in Nebraska, particularly if drillers can access our aquifer water and inflowing river water. Water is the No. 1 requirement, using between 2 million to 8 million gallons per fracked well, and wells are sometimes fracked multiple times. Fresh water is wasted and permanently removed from the natural water cycle. Fresh water is most valuable to our agricultural state.

A disposal well on the western edge of the Ogallala Aquifer is an abomination. It is only about industry profits. The petroleum industry is swimming in fracked oil and is determined to bribe Congress to lift the export ban on U.S. produced oil, allowing them greater profits on the lucrative world market. Don’t let Nebraska be used as a toxic dump by other states! This is absolutely not in the best interest of our state and future generations of Nebraskans.

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Cindy Myers is a registered nurse living in rural Holt County, Nebraska

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