Nationwide, there have been more that 1,000 documented cases of water contamination near drilling sites. Methane leaks related to drilling have caused houses and wells to explode, causing deaths, injuries and loss of property. Six to seven percent of wells leak immediately and fifty percent will leak within 30 years. Methane, the chief ingredient in natural gas, infiltrates aquifers that supply drinking water to wells, unicipalities, springs, streams, and rivers, making them undrinkable and, in some cases, explosive. In addition, the spent fracking fluid may contain radioactive elements, cyanide, mercury and other contaminants which are found naturally underground. Above ground storage ponds can leak and can overflow during flood episodes.
A study by Cornell scientists Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea estimated that fracked wells leak 40 to 60 percent more methane than conventional wells (Scientific American 1/20/12). Because methane is 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide, switching from oil or coal to natural gas consumption would significantly worsen global warming over the next several decades.
Theo Colborne, PhD, founder and president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, detected 649 chemicals in the fracking fluid used in the drilling process; half have been linked to cancers, diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Fifty-five percent of the chemicals cause brain and nervous system damage. As of 2012, a health survey of residents living near Marcellous Shale oil and gas wells shows a clear pattern of negative health impacts from this proximity. While in Tennessee the industry has not so far used the volume of toxic chemicals used elsewhere, negative health effects can still come from methane leaks and naturally occurring toxic and radioactive elements being forced into aquifers. There are no health studies being conducted and there is virtually no monitoring of drilling operations in Tennessee.
The chemical lubricants used in fracking can lubricate fault lines and cause earthquakes. Large numbers of earth quakes have been linked to deep well disposal of waste frackwater in Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia. While there are many deep injection wells in Tennessee, they have not been used for fracking fluids so far.
When drinking water wells have gone bad from fracking, families must import water. Property values fall. Farmers suffer when animals develop health issues. Whole herds of cattle have died when exposed to frackwater.