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Monday, June 24, 2013

New Duke Study Again Attempts to Link Drilling and Water Contamination; Industry Quick to Respond

Duke University takes another
stab at linking drilling to water
From comes this report on a new study by Duke University which concludes that testing may show a link between drilling and contaminated water wells:
The team, which also includes researchers from the University of Rochester and California State Polytechnic University, sampled 81 new drinking water wells in six counties in northeastern Pennsylvania. It combined the data with results from 60 previously sampled wells in Pennsylvania and included a few wells in New York's Otsego County.
The researchers detected methane, the principal component of natural gas, in the drinking water of 82 percent of the 141 homes. Concentrations were six times higher in homes within a kilometer (about 3,300 feet) of natural gas wells, the study found.
Of 12 houses where the concentration of methane were greater than the federal threshold for immediate remediation, 11 homes were within the 3,300-foot radius. The only exception was a house 1.4 kilometers (4,600 feet) from a well.
Read the rest here.

Industry media arm Energy in Depth was quick to respond to the new study, which comes as a sequel to a 2011 study which also went to lengths in an attempt to provide a link between drilling and contamination but contained little of substance to support that idea.  Here is a portion of EID's response:
Here are the four most important things to know about the latest iteration of the Duke paper:
Fact 1: Methane in Water Wells Outside Drilling Proximity
The researchers found methane in 82 percent of the water wells they sampled. More than fifty of those wells – among the 141 total homes sampled – were nowhere near natural gas wells. That’s nearly equal to the number of homes that registered methane concentrations that were in proximity to such wells. At least one of those homes outside the researchers’ established proximity (one kilometer from a natural gas well) actually registered methane above the U.S. Department of the Interior’s remediation limit.
In other words: among the researchers’ samples, drinking water supplies that registered measurable methane concentrations were almost equally likely to be located either close to a natural gas well, or not close. Not exactly a smoking gun.
Read more here.

While those statements from EID are true, what they don't address in their response are the study's findings that methane concentrations were greater in closer proximity to drilling.

I'm sure there will be more back and forth over this study in the days and weeks to come.

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