Fracking Study Blames Faulty Wells for Water Contamination

OAccording to a recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Texas community can expect to see water contamination conditions worsen because of nearby gas production. The study, by researchers at five universities, found faulty fracking wells are to blame for the contamination present in Texas and Pennsylvania testing sites. Fracking involves pumping high-pressure water and chemicals deep into the ground in order to break shale rock and, ultimately, release oil and natural gas.

Researchers did not find evidence that the actual process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was responsible for the tainted water. Instead, construction problems with natural gas wells such as poor casings and failed cement jobs were to blame. Regardless, the results differ from statements made by driller Range Resources Corp. and state regulators that claim gas drilling is not responsible for the presence of explosive methane in the homeowners’ water wells.

Rob Jackson, a Stanford University and Duke University environmental and earth sciences professor involved in the study, released a written statement that said, “People’s water has been harmed by drilling. In Texas, we even saw two homes go from clean to contaminated after our sampling began.”

Zintro expert Michael Jones, HPE is an environmental consultant with over 25 years of experience in the business and academic degrees in biology, ecology and health physics. His primary area of expertise is ecological risk assessment of chemical contamination at hazardous waste sites. Michael is also certified as a Senior Ecologist by the Ecological Society of America. He shares his opinion:

Certainly, the potential for chemical contamination of nearby drinking water wells has always been a possibility. The somewhat unknown nature of connectivity in groundwater formations, coupled with the high-pressure inherent feature of the fracturing process of shale, would lead one to believe that potential cross-contamination cannot be ruled out.

As more rigorous scientific studies are performed on existing well fields that are adjacent to residential areas, it is likely that correlations, and perhaps even causality, will be demonstrated between hydraulic fracturing activity and contamination of drinking water wells or ill effects on human health.
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