Hydraulic fracturing fluids that spilled from natural gas wells in 2007 probably caused the “widespread death or distress” of fish in a Kentucky stream, according to the U.S. Interior Department.
Chemicals that entered the Acorn Fork creek, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) southeast of Lexington, polluted water supplies and resulted in “a significant die-off” of species including the federally threatened Blackside dace, according to a government statement yesterday. The findings were from a joint study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Fish & Wildlife Service.
“This is an example of how the smallest creatures can act as a canary in a coal mine,” Tony Velasco, an ecologist at the Fish & Wildlife office and co-author of the study, said in the statement. “These species use the same water as we do, so it is just as important to keep our waters clean for people and for wildlife.”
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting pressurized water, chemicals and sand underground to shatter rock and gain access to fuel. It is the most common form of gas-well development in Kentucky, according to the statement.