How close is too close? Hydrofracking to access natural gas reservoirs poses risks to surface water

Oct 18, 2011

Natural gas mining has drawn fire recently after claims that hydraulic fracturing, an increasingly popular technique for tapping hard-to-reach reservoirs, contaminates groundwater. Surface lakes, rivers and streams may also be at risk.

In an eView paper of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, researchers from the University of Central Arkansas, University of Arkansas and the estimate the average proximity of drill platforms to surface lakes and streams for two large shale basins underlying much of the eastern US. They review available information on potential threats to surface waters, and conclude that policy makers have woefully little data to guide accelerating natural gas development.

Hydrofracking wells expose nearby streams to loose sediments and hazardous fracturing fluids, and draw away large amounts of water. The technique forces high pressure fluid into dense rock, creating cracks through which trapped natural gas escapes and can be collected from the drill shaft. Developed in the 1940s, the technique gained wide application in the 1990s as gas prices rose and technology to drill horizontally away from a vertical well shaft made "unconventional" drilling profitable. Demand is up for natural gas because it burns cleaner than coal or petroleum, producing less and smog.

But concerns about toxic components of fracking fluids, such as diesel, lead, , and other , are undermining the green reputation of natural gas. "What will happen as fracking doubles, triples, over the next 25 years? How should we set policy to protect resources and ecosystems?" the authors ask. "We don't have the data to decide. We need to generate it."

Explore further: Pact with devil? California farmers use oil firms' water

More information: Read more at: www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/11005

Related Stories

Fracking leaks may make gas 'dirtier' than coal

Apr 12, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale could do more to aggravate global warming than mining coal, according to a Cornell study published in the May issue of Climatic Change Letters (105:5).

Hundreds attend EPA hearing on Pa. gas drilling

Jul 22, 2010

(AP) -- Hundreds of people are attending a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearing in southwestern Pennsylvania on a controversial natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

US asks firms to reveal gas extraction liquid

Sep 10, 2010

The US environmental regulator on Thursday asked gas companies to reveal what chemicals are used in deep extraction, addressing concerns by residents that their drinking water is being contaminated.

Recommended for you

Gimmicks and technology: California learns to save water

Jul 03, 2015

Billboards and TV commercials, living room visits, guess-your-water-use booths, and awards for water stinginess—a wealthy swath of Orange County that once had one of the worst records for water conservation ...

Cities, regions call for 'robust' world climate pact

Jul 03, 2015

Thousands of cities, provinces and states from around the world urged national governments on Thursday to deliver a "robust, binding, equitable and universal" planet-saving climate pact in December.

Will climate change put mussels off the menu?

Jul 03, 2015

Climate change models predict that sea temperatures will rise significantly, including in the tropics. In these areas, rainfall is also predicted to increase, reducing the salt concentration of the surface ...

As nations dither, cities pick up climate slack

Jul 02, 2015

Their national governments hamstrung by domestic politics, stretched budgets and diplomatic inertia, many cities and provinces have taken a leading role—driven by necessity—in efforts to arrest galloping ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 18, 2011
Fracking systems are in use today that do not contain any toxic components and the organics made from natural materials are at a very low concentration. The societal benefit to detriment ratio is extremely high for these fracking fluids.
omatranter
1 / 5 (3) Oct 19, 2011
Fracking systems are in use today that do not contain any toxic components and the organics made from natural materials are at a very low concentration.

Organic Fraking
Who_Wants_to_Know
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 19, 2011
The link to the article doesn't go to the article, nor does a search on fraking return anything.

What's posted here about it sounds like nonsense, however. First, so far claims of any ground water/drinking water contamination have been groundless (no pun intended). Second, as deatopmg noted, fraking fluid composition has significantly changed for the better.

Unless the author of this 'article' provides a correct link to the article, we've got no way to see if there is any substance to what's shown here. Sign me:

Highly Dubious.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.