Study: Fracking Didn't Mess With Drinking Water

DOE study indicated chemical-laced fluids stayed well below aquifers

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 19, 2013 8:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you live near a fracking site, go pour yourself a nice, clean glass of water, because the Department of Energy is pretty sure it's safe. In a landmark study, federal researchers tagged fracking fluids with special markers at a Pennsylvania drilling site before injecting those fluids into the ground at the standard depth of more than 8,000 feet. They then watched for traces about 3,000 feet above that, and found absolutely nothing during their year of monitoring, indicating that the chemical-laced fluids stayed down—and roughly a mile away from any drinking aquifers, the AP reports.

"This is good news," says Duke University scientist Rob Jackson. But he cautioned that the drilling company might have been more careful because it knew the site was being monitored. Jackson's own studies haven't found any contamination from the fluid either, but he has seen water polluted by natural gas that escaped from the wells. The study returned one alarming finding concerning fracking's seismic implications: One of the fractures traveled a disturbing 1,800 feet from the drill. Researchers think it may have hit a natural fault line.

A worker helps monitor water pumping pressure and temperature, at an Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. hydraulic fracturing and extraction site, outside Rifle, in western Colorado.
A worker helps monitor water pumping pressure and temperature, at an Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. hydraulic fracturing and extraction site, outside Rifle, in western Colorado.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Pipelines run from an offshore docking station to four liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanks at the Dominion Resources Inc. Liquified Natural Gas facility in Cove Point, Md.
Pipelines run from an offshore docking station to four liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanks at the Dominion Resources Inc. Liquified Natural Gas facility in Cove Point, Md.   (AP Photo/Matt Houston, File)
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