New Research Links Fracking to Groundwater Contamination in Pennsylvania
Research scientists from Penn State recently published the results of their investigation into 6,991 groundwater samples in southwestern Pennsylvania and found a potential link between elevated levels of chloride, barium, and strontium in the groundwater and areas with a high density of older, conventional oil and gas wells and coal mining where horizontal drilling and fracking for natural gas was also done. This connection was not made in samples from northeast Pennsylvania, where fracking is done, but conventional oil extraction and coal mining is less frequent.
Fracking for shale gas uses large volumes of sand, water, and chemicals injected underground at high pressure, to crack open the subsurface and release trapped gas. A consequence of this process is the generation of millions of gallons of wastewater that often contains large, concentrated amounts of chloride, barium, and strontium, along with other elements that can pose human health risks. This study provides an important piece of the puzzle in terms of the potential for those health risks to be realized in our communities as, quite often, this wastewater is disposed of by injecting it underground, where drinking water sources also lie.
If you’re interested in exploring this issue further, the study is titled “Geochemical Evidence of Groundwater Contamination and Potential Human Health Risks Where Hydraulic Fracturing Overlaps with Extensive Legacy Hydrocarbon Extraction,” and you can find it here. And if you believe your groundwater has been contaminated by fracking activities in your area, you should contact an experienced law firm right away to explore your rights.