Between 2013 and 2022, drilling operations have injected at least 261 New Mexico wells with 9,000 pounds of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for use in fracking, according to the report released on Wednesday by Physicians for Social Responsibility.
During the same period, oil and gas companies injected over 8,200 wells with a total of 243 million pounds of fracking chemicals kept undisclosed due to trade secret shields.
“These forever chemicals are far too dangerous to be set loose in the environment like this,” report coauthor Barbara Gottlieb said in a statement.
Known for their propensity to linger in both the body and in the environment, forever chemicals are a group of thousands of compounds, many of which have been linked to cancer and other illnesses.
Key to the fracking process is the injection of a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into wells at high pressure to unlock trapped oil and gas, according to a 2021 report from the same group, which unearthed the link between PFAS and fracking in the U.S.
Just two months ago, Physicians for Social Responsibility took a similar look at fracking operations in Texas, where they identified the use of over 43,000 pounds of PFAS over the past decade.
Although the use of PFAS in fracking is still widespread, Colorado became the first state to ban the use of these compounds in oil and gas extraction last year.
In New Mexico, however, the authors of Wednesday’s report identified a variety of local barriers preventing such a step from happening there.
State law, they explained, allows oil and gas companies to use trade secret designations to withhold the names of certain fracking chemicals from both regulators and the public.