Gulf of Mexico

Nonprofit conservation organisation the Center for Biological Diversity has stated that it has successfully gained the release of federal documents relating to subsea fracking in the Gulf of Mexico from the US Government after going through Washington DC District Court.

In a press release, the Center for Biological Diversity said its victory forces the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to disclose permits, reports, emails and other documents relating to government approval from oil and gas companies for shale extraction in subsea wells.

According to the environmental group, fracking chemicals mixed with wastewater are being dumped by oil and gas companies directly into the waters of the Gulf and the government was accused of not tracking the quantity of waste being dumped.

Oil and gas companies were claimed to have been blasting large amounts of water and toxic chemicals into the Earth at high pressures to crack rocks in the ocean floor.

The group accused the government of allowing companies to frack at least 115 offshore wells in 2013, and had failed to reveal the amount of subsea shale extraction.

"Offshore fracking has been shrouded in secrecy, but this settlement will finally force the government to tell us where oil companies are using this toxic technique."

The Center for Biological Diversity’s attorney Kristen Monsell said: "Offshore fracking has been shrouded in secrecy, but this settlement will finally force the government to tell us where oil companies are using this toxic technique.

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"Fracking pollution is a huge threat to marine animals, and the high pressures used to frack offshore wells increase the risk of another devastating oil spill. This inherently dangerous activity just doesn’t belong in the Gulf of Mexico."

Oil industry representatives are said to be looking to extracting oil from even deeper depths and also plan to increase fracking.

The technique is predicted to expose coastal communities to air pollutants that have been found to cause cancer and other illnesses.

Monsell added: "The government has no right to give the oil industry free reign to frack at will in our oceans or to keep coastal communities in the dark about this toxic industrial activity."

Image: Sediment-laden water pours into the northern Gulf of Mexico from the Atchafalaya River. Photo: courtesy of Norman Kuring.