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Critics worry about fracking’s impact on cemeteries

The process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has given rise to a new controversy – its impact on cemeteries.

A New York Times article on the issue says cemetery owners lease their mineral rights to oil and gas companies to allow fracking under the burial grounds. The report includes interviews with family members of people buried in those cemeteries, who express concerns that the practice might disturb the graves.

The report quotes fracking expert Robert B. Jackson, an environmental sciences professor at Duke University, as saying: “I could see how people could be deeply offended by this, even if it didn’t cause any problems. If something goes wrong in a farmer’s field in Pennsylvania, that’s one thing. But what if something goes wrong in a cemetery? It seems like at some point you have to draw a line. I can see the signs now: ‘Rest in peace means no lease.’”

During the fracking process, sand, water and chemicals are injected deep underground at high pressure to extract natural gas from rock formations. It’s employed in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region.

The New York Times says cemetery managers and oil and gas company executives claim fracking doesn’t damage graves because it takes place so far underground.

But critics have a number of concerns, including the presence of toxic chemicals such as the carcinogen benzene in fracking water, and the potential destabilization of the land. For example, there have been reports that fracking causes earthquakes.

According to the report, “antifracking activists, lawyers and environmental scientists said that while there might be nothing legally wrong with fracking underneath cemeteries, they were uncomfortable with the practice, arguing that it raised spiritual and moral questions and illustrated a callousness in the desire to drill for natural gas anywhere at any time.”

Lopez McHugh is investigating Marcellus Shale injuries. If you have significant injuries, contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free evaluation.

See the article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/us/drilling-for-natural-gas-under-cemeteries-raises-concerns.html