All industrial activities cause some pollution, related to construction, transportation, use of electricity, etc. Oil drilling has in addition the possibility of releasing volatiles (gases) into the atmosphere, and the possibility of leaking/spilling oil when production is established or during drilling, as well as possible spills of chemicals related to the drilling (just as a car manufacturer, or an agricultural operation might spill the chemicals they use).
Out of more than 525,000 producing oil wells in the US, and on the order of 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 drilled since 1859, the number that results in significant spills is small – but of course each of those few can have a large impact, and some have done so.
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) may involve the injection of known toxic chemicals into or near drinking water supplies. Storms causing water runoff at drilling sites can wash toxins into groundwater, and nearby rivers, lakes, etc.
A variety of air contaminants are emitted through the oil and gas development process, as well as soil contaminants. Oil and gas industry wastes can include petroleum hydrocarbons, metals, naturally occurring radioactive materials, salts, and toxic chemicals that can prevent the growth of vegetation, or eventually seep into groundwater.
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