Drilling for natural gas is booming in Pennsylvania—thanks to fracturing shale rock with a water and chemical cocktail paired with the ability to drill in any direction. Despite homeowner complaints, however, research on how such hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is impacting local water wells has not kept pace. Now a new study that sampled water from 60 such wells has found evidence for natural gas–contamination in those within a kilometer of a new natural gas well.
“Methane concentrations in drinking water were much higher if the homeowner was near an active gas well,” explains environmental scientist Robert Jackson of Duke University, who led the study published online May 9 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We wanted to try and separate fact from emotion.” …
“I saw a homeowner light his water on fire,” Jackson notes. “The biggest risk is flammability and explosion.” … Fracking is specifically exempted from much federal regulation, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974.
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