The Fracking Effect: Quarantined Cows Gives Birth to Dead Calves

As the nation moves into the age of fracking, concerns over the food supply are surfacing, with environmentalist pointing to cases of livestock falling victim to fracking water contamination, giving birth to stillborn calves and cases of contaminated soil destroying vegetation.

In 2010, cows grazing in a Pennsylvania pasture were exposed to drilling waste from a nearby fracking site. Before the spill was discovered, more than 25 cows were exposed to the toxic liquid. According to National Public Radio, the hoof marks of 28 beef cattle were discovered near the spill.

The toxic liquid contained magnesium, iron, sulfate, chloride, barium and strontium. Its exposure with soil wiped out all vegetation it touched. According to the report, all cows exposed were taken aside and quarantined, a move East Resources, the company responsible, attempted to halt. A follow-up report in 2011 revealed that the exposed cows gave birth to 11 cows — only three survived.

“It’s abominable,” Carol Johnson, farmer and owner of the cows told NRP. “They were born dead or extremely weak. It’s highly unusual. I might lose one or two calves a year, but I don’t lose eight out of 11.”

The spill resulted in a $36,000 fine for East Resources, but the company continues to operate.

Issues like this are what concerned residents in oil-rich states are pointing to, using such cases as a basis for what they see as proof that there is at least a need for environmental impact studies to be completed before the industry goes any further. The death of vegetation and livestock, presumably resulting from exposure to fracking fluid, is being seen as a threat to the nation’s food supply.

“Farmers, whose livelihoods depend on the health of the land, face especially stark choices,” Food and Water Watch says in its most recent report on the issue, “Fracking and the Food System.” “Many have leased their land to gas compani