The Daily Scoop: Study; Fracking Waste May Migrate to Aquifers Faster than Predicted


A new study has raised fresh concerns about the safety of gas drilling in the  Marcellus Shale, concluding that fracking chemicals injected into the ground  could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts have  previously predicted.

More than 5,000 wells were drilled in the Marcellus between mid-2009 and  mid-2010, according to the study, which was published in the journal Ground  Water two weeks ago. Operators inject up to 4 million gallons of fluid, under more  than 10,000 pounds of pressure, to drill and frack each well.

Scientists have theorized that impermeable layers of rock would keep the  fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chemicals, safely locked  nearly a mile below water supplies. This view of the earth’s underground geology  is a cornerstone of the industry’s argument that fracking poses minimal threats  to the environment.

But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and  fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by the effects of fracking itself, could  allow chemicals to reach the surface in as little as “just a few years.”

Read more…

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2 Comments to “The Daily Scoop: Study; Fracking Waste May Migrate to Aquifers Faster than Predicted”

  1. As a hydrogeologist, I had been sceptical about these fears; although the drip feed of scare stories (pun very much intended) is proving very persuasive. Nevertheless, any risk of direct adverse environmental impact is not the reason unconventional hydrocarbon exploitation should be abandoned.
    “I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.” James Hansen (2009) Storms of My Grandchildren, page 236.

    • “Nevertheless, any risk of direct adverse environmental impact is not the reason unconventional hydrocarbon exploitation should be abandoned.”

      Absolutely, contaminated drinking water at the local level is of minimal concern compared to broader impacts of continued fossil fuel use.

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