Duke study: High levels of methane in drinking water wells linked to fracking | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Monday, May 9, 2011

Duke study: High levels of methane in drinking water wells linked to fracking

Posted by on Mon, May 9, 2011 at 3:20 PM

A study released Monday by five Duke University scientists found that drinking water wells near gas extraction sites had on average, 17 times higher levels of methane gas than wells that weren’t. Some of these wells, the study concluded, had concentrations of methane far above the “immediate action” hazard level.

fracking_study.pdf

The scientists tested 60 drinking water wells in Pennsylvania and New York for the presence of methane. Methane was detected in 51 of the wells, regardless of whether they were near gas extraction operations, but those nearest the drilling sites—within a half-mile—contained higher levels of methane.

“Essentially, the closer you are to a natural gas well, the more likely you are to have methane in your well,” said Rob Jackson, one of the scientists involved in the study. “What surprised me was the consistency of the results.”

The scientists also studied the geochemistry of the methane in the affected drinking water wells and concluded that it matched that found in nearby gas wells.

The immediate danger of methane in drinking water is that it can build up in the well or in a home and explode. Last year, a well in Pennsylvania did just that, as did a home in Ohio in 2007. In both cases, state investigators concluded methane from nearby extraction sites contributed to the explosions.

Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water North Carolina, called the study findings “powerful information,” adding “It’s a level of analytical information I’m glad to see.”

Clean Water North Carolina opposes fracking because of its environmental harm to water and air quality as well as the lack of regulation over the drilling method.

The federal government does not regulate methane in drinking water. In a subsequent paper, Jackson and his colleagues recommended that an independent medical panel review the health effects of inhaling the gas and drinking water that contains methane. The scientists also recommended an investigation into how methane leaks into drinking water wells and sampling drinking and groundwater before and after drilling.

frackingrecommendations.pdf

Vik Rao is executive director of the Research Triangle Energy Consortium, which represents Duke, UNC, N.C. State University and the nonprofit RTI International on energy issues. Rao previously worked for energy company Halliburton for 30 years, most recently as senior vice president and chief technology officer.

“If there’s a leak, it’s because the cement casing is bad,” Rao said. “This can be completely prevented.”

The North Carolina Legislature is considering three bills that could open the door for fracking in the state. Environmental groups and some scientists are skeptical that there would be adequate oversight and enforcement of fracking in the state, given the energy industry’s power and the deep cuts—as much as 23 percent—in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources budget.

“There’s a tremendous amount of wishful thinking that we’ll have true independent oversight of these operations,” Taylor said.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

Impeach Judge Michael Denning. Does anyone find it very odd that Judge Michael Denning has not been impeached as a …

by Justice in the Courts on Wake County Judge Michael Denning: 'China Wouldn't Be So Bad If It Weren't for All the Chinese' (News)

Of course there was no evidence. We're in a post-fact world, doncha know? And one person saying there could be …

by canesfan on State Board of Elections Throws McCrory a Lifejacket (News)

Plenty of news about all of the wrong in the DPD, some of which is probably true. When will we …

by mike_in_nc on Local Lawyer: Officer Who Fired Fatal Shot Has a History ... (News)

"We're targeted."
"It scares me. I become afraid immediately.
They're coming to do something. They comin' to bring …

by Chris Tiffany on Local Lawyer: Officer Who Fired Fatal Shot Has a History ... (News)

This comment is relevant to "Meeting on DPD Shooting Accomplished Nothing".
Were targeted.
It scares me. I become …

by Chris Tiffany on Residents: Meeting on DPD Shooting Accomplished Nothing (News)

Comments

Impeach Judge Michael Denning. Does anyone find it very odd that Judge Michael Denning has not been impeached as a …

by Justice in the Courts on Wake County Judge Michael Denning: 'China Wouldn't Be So Bad If It Weren't for All the Chinese' (News)

Of course there was no evidence. We're in a post-fact world, doncha know? And one person saying there could be …

by canesfan on State Board of Elections Throws McCrory a Lifejacket (News)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation