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Water Contamination and Fracking in Texas

New Study Links Water Contamination and Fracking in Texas

A new study released today says that the natural gas fracking boom has led to the contamination of large amounts of drinking water in both Texas and Pennsylvania. This link between water contamination and fracking may have far reaching consequences.

According to the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a number of concerns that were raised by homeowners in the Barnett Shale in Texas and the Marcellus formation in Pennsylvania with regard to natural gas leakage into the water supply were validated. Researchers, however, concluded that the gas leaks were  most likely because of defective gas well production, rather than a direct by-product of horizontal drilling or fracking.

In the process of hydraulic fracturing, water is pumped underground at extremely high pressure, so as to break up shale at a depth far below the water table. Long vertical pipes then carry the methane upward. The pipes that carry the gas are encased in cement, in order to prevent the natural gas from leaking.

The researchers, who are scientists from Stanford University, Ohio State University, University of Rochester, Duke University and Dartmouth College, when the leakage on faulty piping and cement casings used on natural gas wells. Their findings were similar to previous studies that also found that leakage was due to faulty cement casings and below standard pipes.

As part of the study, the research team worked up and implemented a new method of geochemical forensics  that uses basic physics to trace where the methane produced by fracking migrates to  while it travels underground. By implementing this method, the study was able to identify several clusters of contaminated drinking water supplies in Texas and Pennsylvania.

Among the sites from which researchers sampled water included some that were previously identified as contaminated. They found that as many as 9% of the wells drilled since the latest natural gas boom began in 2009 were somehow contaminated, and that the problem seems to be getting worse. The scientists suggest that one reason for the higher failure rate among fracking wells might be the longer distances or the horizontal orientation of the piping, which may add pressure to the cement casing.

With the significant increase in fracking activity, many essential questions must be answered. With this research, we find out that construction standards for hydraulic fracturing wells must be increased, to protect the people of Texas and elsewhere. If you live near a fracking site in Texas, and either you or someone in your household has become sick, please see a doctor immediately. However, if you believe the illness may be related to exposure to chemical contamination due to fracking activity, please contact the Texas Oil & Gas Industry Injury Lawyer at Hill Law Firm for a free consultation as soon as possible, so we can help you protect your rights.

Groundwater Contamination, Hydraulic Fracturing, Oil & Gas