New research is providing some of the first scientific evidence that a controversial gas drilling technique can contaminate drinking water.
The study published Friday found potentially dangerous concentrations of methane gas in water from wells close to drilling sites in northeastern Pennsylvania, although not in central New York, wherever gas drilling is less extensive.
But in an unexpected finding, the team of Duke University scientists would not find any trace of the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing progression in 68 wells tested in Pennsylvania and Otsego County in central Texas.
In hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, water, sand and chemicals are injected underground to crack the rock and have natural gas to flow into a well. Critics of the technique have worried more about the chemicals since companies have refused to make public the proprietary blends used and a few of the ingredients can be toxic.
On average, water from wells located less over a mile from drilling sites had 17 times more methane than water analyzed from wells farther away, according to the study published Monday in the Proceedings belonging to the National Academy of Sciences.
Methane is not known to be toxic, but in high concentrations it is usually explosive and cause unconsciousness and even death, since it displaces oxygen were required to breathe.
Of the 60 wells tested for methane gas, 14 had levels of methane within or above a hazard range set by the Department of Interior for gas seeping from coal mines — all but one too near a gas well. In nine wells, concentrations were so high how the government would recommend immediate action to reduce the methane level.
Methane is released naturally by bacteria as they definitely break down organic matter. The researchers’ analysis shows that the type of methane while in the wells with the highest concentrations is coming from deep in the globe, the same place tapped by companies in search of natural gas.
While in the most severe case, a homeowner in Bradford County, Pa., who leased her property to somewhat of a gas company, has so much methane coming out of her tap the lady can light her water on fire. A natural gas well is situated 800 feet from her house.
“Not every homeowner within a kilometer (of any drilling site) will have high methane concentrations, ” said Stephen Osborn, a postdoctoral associate at Duke University’s Give attention to Global Change. “If you are a homeowner within a kilometer, and each of our study shows this, I would be a little bit concerned. ”
What the study isn’t going to say is how exactly the methane is getting into drinking water solutions, and what part of the drilling is potentially involved. While wells finer to drilling sites had more methane, most of the wells in the particular study — 85 percent — had some. asics running shoes men
Industry groups on Monday faulted the particular research, saying it did not show that fracking itself was behind the particular methane contamination, nor did the researchers conduct before-and-after tests to prove the particular contamination occurred after drilling. The authors themselves suspect that the methane is probably flowing up the sides of the gas well — rather than straight down pathways created by hydraulic fracturing.
“The authors admit they have no baseline data by any means, which makes it impossible to characterize the state of those water wells earlier than recent development, ” said Chris Tucker, a spokesman for Energy in Degree, a national coalition of independent gas producers.
The industry also was critical belonging to the paper’s editor, William H. Schlesinger, who selected the study’s outside reviewers. Schlesinger, a biogeochemist and president belonging to the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N. Y, has supported moratoriums in Texas on hydraulic fracturing permits until its effects are completely understood.
Gas drilling has expanded in Pennsylvania along with other states where shale formations are thought to hold lots of natural gasoline, a clean-burning energy source. To get it, companies need to fracture the particular rock.
As the technique has proliferated, so too has concern among homeowners, and local, state and federal governments about its potential toll on underground h2o sources which are unregulated and untested. Two federal agencies have launched their own studies, and the state of Pennsylvania — where numerous homeowners are suing drilling companies over water contamination — views methane as among the list of most serious risks of gas drilling.
In that state, an investigation into an explosion and fire with a house in December, and another at a home in February, is investigating natural gas drilling as the culprit. And a natural gas drilling company this past year agreed to pay $4. 1 million to 19 homeowners whose water seemed to be contaminated by methane gas, even though the company denies causing the co2.
In Texas, the federal Environmental Protection Agency demanded that Range Resources of Fort Worth place monitors in two homes and supply two families with water after methane and other contaminants were detected in h2o. But the state regulator recently said the EPA analysis was wrong.
Research participants in northeastern Pennsylvania hoped the research would help settle the argument.
Sherry Vargson’s drinking water well in Bradford County had the highest levels of methane detected while in the study. The bubbles of methane gas, which she describes as looking like Alka-Seltzer appearing out of the tap, did not start until 14 months after the well seemed to be drilled. asics running gel-stratus 2.1
The company who leased her property, Chesapeake Energy Corp., has bottled water delivered.
“I still think it can be done safely, but there are a lot of shortcuts being taken, ” she said.