Contamination Not Linked to Fracking, Study Says

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted February 20, 2012

A new study has revealed that hydraulic fracturing is not responsible for groundwater contamination, as previously believed.

A group from the University of Texas studied fracking locations in Texas at the Barnett Shale and Haynesville Shale and in New York and Pennsylvania at the Marcellus Shale.

And though residents in some of the areas were actually able to light their drinking water on fire, a clear indication that something was off, the researchers found that it was not a direct result of fracking.

According to the study, the most likely cause of the contamination is ground water spills and improper disposal of wastewater.  It could be linked to any type of natural gas extraction.

Charles Groat, the professor who led the study, told Fox News:

“The bottom line was, in the areas we investigated…we found no direct evidence that hydraulic fracturing itself was contaminating groundwater.”

The process of fracking consists of injecting combinations of water, sand, and chemicals into shale rock to break it apart and release the natural gases within.

It has been fought hard by environmentalists, who believe that it is poisoning water and causing small earthquakes.

But the $308,000 for the study was funded entirely by the University of Texas so, as Groat said, “it was not dependent on sources either from the energy community or the environmental community.”  The study was as unbiased as possible.

The study further found that the chemicals in groundwater were present before hydraulic fracturing began in those areas.  It’s more likely released by drilling than fracking.

That doesn’t completely take fracking off the hook.  John Claque of Simon Fraser University is more interested in earthquake potential:

“Small to potentially moderate-size earthquakes have been triggered by the re-injection of waste water during the fracking process…Large earthquakes are unlikely, but one cannot completely rule them out.”

The process is still being monitored by specialists, and several states have ongoing moratoria against fracking.  Though it’s the most effective way of releasing the nation’s huge potential in natural gas, the environmental effects are still unclear.

That’s all for now,


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