This story originally appeared on Houston Public Media.
In a conference call with reporters, the environmental groups said states, like Texas where oil and gas drilling has surged, aren’t doing enough to regulate toxic waste generated at the drill sites. And they said the federal Environmental Protection Agency should be stepping in but isn’t.
“Some of this waste is toxic, some of this waste is ignitable, some of this is hazardous and yet the EPA doesn’t treat it that way,” said Aaron Mintzes with Earthworks.
It is one of the groups now threatening to sue the EPA to make it start regulating drilling waste.
Last year, we reported how tons of oily, muddy, chemical-laced sludge from drilling sites is dumped in Texas, sometimes in unlined pits dug in the ground.
Bob Patterson managed a groundwater conservation district in North Texas.
He told us last year, “It’s just a ticking time bomb before we have major aquifer contamination.”
Texas regulators said they know of no cases where the pits contaminated groundwater. But the environmental groups say it’s not just the waste pits that are a concern.
“There are currently 7,500 disposal injection wells operating in Texas,” said Adam Kron with the Environmental Integrity Project.
Those drilling waste disposal wells have been linked by some scientists to earthquakes, another reason the groups said stricter federal oversight is needed. The EPA says it will review the groups concerns, but adds that it has already taken steps to regulate fracking waste and has worked with states on the earthquake issue.