Study: Pennsylvania fracking not to blame for water salinity | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Study: Pennsylvania fracking not to blame for water salinity

Posted by on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 4:34 PM

A new study released this week by Duke University researchers seems to excuse fracking from at least one groundwater hazard in Pennsylvania.

The report, issued by researchers in Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment, indicated "natural pathways" in drill-heavy northeastern Pennsylvania could be to blame for elevated levels of underground salts and gases in the region's drinking water.

According to the Duke study, researchers found higher levels of salt content with similar geochemistry to Marcellus brine in drinking water samples, although there seemed to be "no direct links between the salinity and shale gas exploration in the region."

The higher salinity can pose drinking water hazards in cases where the water was found to have elevated barium levels.

Avner Vengosh, a professor of geochemistry and water quality at the Nicholas School who co-authored this week's report, said Marcellus brine contains high levels of metals and naturally-occurring radioactivity.

The report seems a very modest victory for backers of fracking, the controversial drilling technique in which gas companies inject pressurized chemical stews underground to break loose shale-trapped natural gas.

Questions remain about the long-term environmental and health impacts of the drilling, which has been dogged by widespread reports of water pollution and increased seismic activity in drilling states. Two weeks ago, fracking was cleared to begin as soon as 2014 in North Carolina thanks to a veto override in the N.C. General Assembly that never should have happened.

Duke's newest study comes more than a year after university scientists reported methane levels 17 times higher in wells near fracking sites in northeastern Pennsylvania and New York. The long-term health impacts of drinking methane are unknown at this point, although the gas is explosive in high concentrations.

Last year's study was met with expected criticism from fracking backers who argued the Duke report did not support its findings. Vengosh told the Indy Thursday that the gripes didn't affect the continuing research.

"We are not supported by the industry, so we are totally free in terms of our data and interpretation," he said. "It was amusing, but it has nothing to do with the research direction or interpretation. It seems like everyone is taking what they want to see from these studies."

Vengosh said the school's researchers plan to delve into additional components related to fracking, venturing outside of northeast drilling zones and into southeast states like Arkansas. University scientists are also gathering baseline water quality data in likely drilling sites in North Carolina.

Tags: , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

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

Comments

It's spelled "Zainab Baloch".

by jason0x21 on Baldwin Bows Out of Raleigh At-large Race; All Council Candidates Have Opposition (News)

I live in Durham NC. We have a large growth in the last 6 years. The city have really gotten …

by Margaret Houston on Section 8 Voucher Holders Are Having a Hard Time Finding Housing in Durham (News)

Most Recent Comments

It's spelled "Zainab Baloch".

by jason0x21 on Baldwin Bows Out of Raleigh At-large Race; All Council Candidates Have Opposition (News)

I live in Durham NC. We have a large growth in the last 6 years. The city have really gotten …

by Margaret Houston on Section 8 Voucher Holders Are Having a Hard Time Finding Housing in Durham (News)

@ Hunter23 "A combination of investors and loans" is not specific, and nowhere in the article is the phrase "private …

by RJO_III on North Carolina FC and John Kane Want to Put a Big Ol' Soccer Stadium in Downtown Raleigh (News)

The article clearly states the building would be privately funded with the state/local gov pitching in for infrastructure enhancement. The …

by Hunter23 on North Carolina FC and John Kane Want to Put a Big Ol' Soccer Stadium in Downtown Raleigh (News)

I truly admire the passion and support the message. But it seems standing on an overpass during rush hour traffic …

by Diane Alenezi on High Above I-40, Protesters Call for "Health Care 4 All" (News)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation