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Monday, July 29, 2013

Study Suggests Water Contamination From Drilling in Texas, But Questions Remain

From RTCC:
A high level of water contamination has been discovered in the water wells near a natural gas extraction site in the US.
The toxic substances, including arsenic, selenium and strontium, were all found at levels higher than recommended levels in wells in and around the Barnett Shale, an important reservoir of natural gas in North Texas.
The study, led by Kevin Schug, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Texas (UT) at Arlington, took water samples from 100 private wells.
Of these, 91 were taken from wells that were within a five kilometre radius of a natural gas drilling site, while another nine were taken from “reference areas” of more than 14 kilometres from a drilling site.
Read the rest of the article here.

Energy in Depth, of course, was quick to weigh in with questions about the study.  Amazingly, Duke professor Rob Jackson, who has been working to try and prove that fracking can contaminate water, echoes some of EID's points.

Here is some of what the industry's PR arm had to say about the study:
Make no mistake: this new research from UTA could inform better risk management techniques. But there were a few questions that come to mind as we read through this latest study (and the initial news reports about its release).
Question 1: Why is ‘Fracking’ Being Implicated?
In order to determine if the hydraulic fracturing process has contaminated groundwater, samples will usually be tested for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes – BTEX, for short. The researchers did test for those, and they concluded:
We found no evidence of BTEX compounds using both LC-UV-MS 192 and GCMS.” (p. 9)
So why, then, did the first story out of the gate put “fracking” in the headline alongside findings of “elevated levels of heavy metals”? The researchers themselves pointed to a variety of different causes (more on that in a moment), which could include increased industrial activity and even changes in the water table due to drought. But apparently, as with the discussion on earthquakes, the obsession around the word “fracking” – and the associated need to include it inevery headline – trumped any interest in accuracy.
The rest can be read here. 

View details of the study here.

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