There is a danger in Arizona that is threatening our water. The Coconino Aquifer supplies much of the water in Arizona, but is at risk of contamination from "well stimulation" (fracking by another name). Projects are underway that are using this method to extract helium in a location dangerously close to our state’s most valuable underground water reservoir.
Well stimulation is the extraction industry's term for numerous methods used to increase well production. In this specific case, an acidic solution will be pumped into the strata to dissolve the bonding of sandstone in the Holbrook Basin, in order to extract helium. The sandstone is bonded by resistant silica, which normally does not react with acid. This means the acid used to dissolve this silica is necessarily hydrofluoric acid, an extremely reactive systemic poison that is highly corrosive and passes easily through skin and tissue. This acid can also become colorless gas that can damage lung tissue and cause pulmonary edema.
Eighty percent of the state’s residents are reliant on the Coconino Aquifer, a huge underground basin of water covering much of northeastern Arizona. The aquifer flows to Lake Mead and then via the Central Arizona Project, it supplies water all the way to Tucson. Contamination of this water would be an enormous, statewide disaster. Unfortunately, permits have already been granted for 80 wells just east of the Petrified Forest.
In response to this threat to our water, White Mountains Indivisible formed an action team, POWAZ (Protect Our Water, AZ), for which I am the main speaker. We have two bills for the 2020 state legislature in the works. The first calls for a total, state-wide ban on fracking, and the second calls for a moratorium that will include further study of fracking's impact on our environment. Myron Tsosie (LD7 Rep.) will sponsor the ban, and Arlando Teller (LD7 Rep.) the moratorium. Two candidates for LD6 State Rep., Felicia French and Mayor Coral Evans, have both said they would support a moratorium. On the federal level, Rep. Tom O'Halleran attended a presentation at my home and was eager to hear from our group and other concerned citizens.
Dr. Kevin Gibson, retired mining engineer