Fracking to Continue In George Washington National Forest

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- Members of the U.S. Forest Service are saying that fracking will continue to be permitted inside the George Washington National Forest. This has brought up a lot of concerns from people, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe and environmental groups who tried to have it banned.

Many people in the valley are concerned and fear their drinking water may become contaminated.

Under this plan, of the 1.1 million acres of land in the forest, fracking will be permitted on about 10 percent. That's in addition to the 10,000 acres that have been leased to oil and gas companies since 2008.

A member of the forest service said before any drilling is allowed in the forest, additional tests need to take place.

Right now, the biggest concern people have is with streams being polluted.

Inside the forest, streams provide water to more than a 250,000 people in the area.

Doctor Eric Pyle, a professor specializing in geoscience education at James Madison University, said while water pollution is the number one concern most people have, technology should prevent that.

"The big issue is sort of remote. Once they have actually done the frack, the fracturing, all the water that's removed has to be treated, more or less, as hazardous waste. You can't just dump it in the river, you can't take it to a municipal treatment plant. They're just not equip to handle it. So we've got probably local issues that could be caused, though they can be prevented. But then the larger issue is what happens to the water that's recovered as well," explained Pyle.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said this can all be done safely and does not pose a risk to groundwater; however, the science on the impact has not been found to be conclusive.