Hydro Fracking Wells Can Taint Drinking Water: Report

As concerns continue to mounts about the safety of hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, new research suggests that poorly build wells have caused water contamination at a number of sites, contaminating aquifers with natural gas. 

In a study published last week in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, researchers found no evidence that injection fluids used during the controversial hydro-fracking process were contaminating ground water sources, but rather indicate that wells with bad cementing may leak natural gas and other contaminants from the deeper shales, impacting aquifers that are often used to supply drinking water.

Hydro fracturing is a gas extraction process where a mixture of water, sand and fluids that the gas industry has fought to keep secret is injected into the ground at extremely high pressure, cracking shale deposits and freeing trapped natural gas, which can then be removed. Those fluids are then sucked from the ground and often disposed of in wastewater wells.

Did You Know?

AT&T Data Breach Impacts Millions of Customers

More than 73 million customers of AT&T may have had their names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other information released on the dark web due to a massive AT&T data breach. Lawsuits are being pursued to obtain financial compensation.

Learn More

Fracking has come under increasing scrutiny over the last several years. It has become a popular method of gas extraction, due to new drilling techniques and the discovery of large shale reserves throughout the eastern seaboard.

It first began to boom in Wyoming and Montana’s Powder River Basin region, but now it has spread across the east coast in thousands of well sites in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Fracking Water Contamination Risk

In this latest study to examine whether fracking wells are actually polluting water supplies, researchers from Duke University analyzed 133 drinking water well samples from two major shales targeted by hydraulic fracturing operations. They looked for the presence of hydrocarbons and isotopic compositions in groundwater near shale-gas wells.

“Against a backdrop of naturally occurring salt- and gas-rich groundwater, we identified eight discrete clusters of fugitive gas contamination, seven in Pennsylvania and one in Texas that showed increased contamination through time,” the researchers noted. “Noble gas isotope and hydrocarbon data link four contamination clusters to gas leakage from intermediate-depth strata through failures of annulus cement, three to target production gases that seem to implicate faulty production cases, and one to an underground gas well failure.”

Environmentalists, a number of lawmakers, local communities and consumer advocacy groups have expressed concerns for years that hydrofracking presents a threat to groundwater supplies and the environment.

The findings contradict claims by the industry that naturally occurring gas migration into groundwater was the cause of the contamination events, as the researchers found a method of determining whether the gas contamination happened quickly after drilling began.

Hydrofracking Safety Concerns

There are a number of other environmental concerns surrounding the fracking process. Residents near hydraulic fracturing sites have reported air pollution, dust problems, and a recent study found that pregnant women living near fracking wells had an increased risk of having a child with birth defects.

A number of studies have also shown that there may be a link between fracking and earthquakes, suggesting that the intense pressure from the unidentified fluids can cause ground tremors violent enough to damage property and cause injuries and possibly deaths.

Earlier this year, Texas jury awarded $2.9 million in damages to a family who sued a hydraulic fracturing company for being a public nuisance. According allegations raised in a fracking lawsuit filed by the Parr family, nearly two dozen wells near their property caused a private nuisance, exposing them to toxic chemicals that damaged their health and lowered property value.


Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Want your comments reviewed by a lawyer?

To have an attorney review your comments and contact you about a potential case, provide your contact information below. This will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

AT&T Data Breach Class Action Claims Telecom Giant
AT&T Data Breach Class Action Claims Telecom Giant "Disregarded" Customer Financial Safety (Posted today)

A Missouri woman is one of the latest person to file an class action claim over the AT&T data breach, after the telecom company admitted that hackers stole millions of customers' personal information and sold it on the internet.

Plaintiffs Oppose Phased Discovery Over Suboxone Tooth Decay Risks in MDL
Plaintiffs Oppose Phased Discovery Over Suboxone Tooth Decay Risks in MDL (Posted yesterday)

Plaintiffs say a federal judge should not waste time on a phased discovery plan requiring them to first prove Suboxone strips can cause tooth decay, saying the science is obvious and such a plan could delay resolution of hundreds of product liability lawsuits.