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Study: Fracking Does Not Contaminate Groundwater

With AFP Story by Veronique DUPONT: US-Energy-Gas-Environment A Consol Energy Horizontal Gas Drilling Rig explores the Marcellus Shale outside the town of Waynesburg, PA on April 13, 2012. It is estimated that more than 500 trillion cubic feet of shale gas is contained in this stretch of rock that runs …
MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty

A new study conducted by Duke University found that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has not contaminated the groundwater in West Virginia.

Duke’s study found that the claim by many environmentalists that fracking contaminates the groundwater does not hold up, because the groundwater was already contaminated from methane and salts before the fracking occurred.

“Based on consistent evidence from comprehensive testing, we found no indication of groundwater contamination over the three-year course of our study,” Avner Vengosh, the professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, said.

Vengosh and other scientists concluded that, while fracking did not contaminate the groundwater, accidental spills of fracking wastewater could pose a threat to surface water in the area.

”However, we did find that spill water associated with fracked wells and their wastewater has an impact on the quality of streams in areas of intense shale gas development,” Vengosh added.

“The bottom-line assessment,” he continued, “is that groundwater is so far not being impacted, but surface water is more readily contaminated because of the frequency of spills.”

Researchers collected water samples from 112 drinking wells in northwestern West Virginia and studied them over a three year period. They sampled 20 of the water wells before drilling or fracking started in the area in order to obtain a baseline for later comparisons.

Duke’s study draws similar conclusions to the scientific studies from regulatory bodiesacademics, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that determined that fracking has not contaminated groundwater or drinking water.

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