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Methane levels 17 times higher in water wells near hydrofracking sites

A study by Duke University researchers has found high levels of leaked methane in well water collected near shale-gas drilling and hydrofracking sites. The scientists collected and analyzed water samples from 68 private groundwater wells across five counties in northeastern Pennsylvania and New York. "At least some of the homeowners who claim that their wells were contaminated by shale-gas extraction appear to be right," says Robert B. Jackson, Nicholas Professor of Global Environmental Change and director of Duke's Center on Global Change.
Hydraulic fracturing, also called hydrofracking or fracking, involves pumping water, sand and chemicals deep underground into horizontal gas wells at high pressure to crack open hydrocarbon-rich shale and extract natural gas.
The study found no evidence of contamination from chemical-laden fracking fluids, which are injected into gas wells to help break up shale deposits, or from "produced water," wastewater that is extracted back out of the wells after the shale has been fractured.
The peer-reviewed study of well-water contamination from shale-gas drilling and hydrofracking appears this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We found measurable amounts of methane in 85 percent of the samples, but levels were 17 times higher on average in wells located within a kilometer of active hydrofracking sites," says Stephen Osborn, postdoctoral research associate at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. The contamination was observed primarily in Bradford and Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania.
Water wells farther from the gas wells contained lower levels of methane and had a different isotopic fingerprint.
"Methane is CH4. By using carbon and hydrogen isotope tracers we could distinguish between thermogenic methane, which is formed at high temperatures deep underground and is captured in gas wells during hydrofracking, and biogenic methane, which is produced at shallower depths and lower temperatures," says Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality. Biogenic methane is not associated with hydrofracking.
"Methane in water wells within a kilometer had an isotopic composition similar to thermogenic methane," Vengosh says. "Outside this active zone, it was mostly a mixture of the two."
The scientists confirmed their finding by comparing the dissolved gas chemistry of water samples to the gas chemistry profiles of shale-gas wells in the region, using data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. "Deep gas has a distinctive chemical signature in its isotopes," Jackson says. "When we compared the dissolved gas chemistry in well water to methane from local gas wells, the signatures matched."
Methane is flammable and poses a risk of explosion. In very high concentrations, it can cause asphyxiation. Little research has been conducted on the health effects of drinking methane-contaminated water and methane isn't regulated as a contaminant in public water systems under the EPA's National Primary Drinking Water Regulations.
The Duke team collected samples from counties overlying the Marcellus shale formation. Accelerated gas drilling and hydrofracking in the region in recent years has fueled concerns about well-water contamination by methane, produced water and fracking fluids, which contain a proprietary mix of chemicals that companies often don't disclose.
http://esciencenews.com/articles/2011/05/09/methane.levels.17.times.higher.water.wells.near.hydrofracking.sites


Added: Sep-1-2011 Occurred On: May-9-2011
By: Cheesehead
In:
World News
Tags: fracking
Location: United States (load item map)
Views: 5795 | Comments: 42 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 1 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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  • The contamination from the drilling chemicals and "holding pools" is what scares me most about this shady practice.

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • Comment of user 'MrPadaso' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @MrPadaso -dont forget the lawsuits get hung up in court for 20 years. plantiffs dies. case ends.

      Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • Comment of user 'MrPadaso' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Great news! Free Gas!!!

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • You've got to watch the pea under the thimble with these greenie 'reports'.

    You'd expect more gas near the sites that are extracting those gases and less in locations where no gas is being extracted. This is simply because extraction is most likely in sites that have high gas levels and flows.

    For decades (well before any fracking), these areas had high levels of methane contamination of water supplies.

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • Comment of user 'Cheesehead' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @Cheesehead
      Where in the article does it say that levels become higher due to fracking ?
      I repeat - you have to watch the pea under the thimble - the article gives you the IMPRESSION that that's what happened, but if you read it carefully, that is NOT what is stated.

      Of course the gas levels would be higher where the extraction is taking place - because that's why the extraction is happening there - higher gas levels !

      Be careful with green propaganda - it's very trickily worded.

      Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • @Cheesehead That's the whole deal. Nobody said they weren't already 17 times higher before the fracking began. the data is incomplete. We know for a fact that methane levels are naturally high in many of these places. Unless the study includes data from these sights from before and after the wells were drilled then the whole thing was just a waste of time and money.

      Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • Comment of user 'Cheesehead' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @Cheesehead

      Where should the fracking be? Where the methane is.

      Where is the methane? In high methane areas than can invade water supplies?

      Unless there is a before and after, the results can not point to causation, only correlation.

      Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • Cool. Burn it off and call it the new "firewater."

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • if i were drinking water that was visualy polluted then i deserve the diarrhea explosion afterwards.

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • Tankyou bildenbers,illuminatis

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • This may be true were they go in and frac a old shallow well but would be impossible on the new deeper wells. I did this for years, this is not something new.

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • dont worry
    the politicians will make the right decision.

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • hooray! free jenkem soda.

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • Comment of user 'htos1' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • CH4 +H2O = CH6 + O.....CH5 + HO ? Nope. Won't happen. CHO + 2H2....Lets see, thats formaldehyde and 2 molecules of flammable hydrogen.... Cheap materials for morticians and corpse burners.......

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • In many cases the hydrofracking companies do not need your consent to drill under or ON your land. If the majority of land around your land is already open to potential fracking, they are allowed to come onto your land without your consent and start drilling.

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • @Flash_Back that and they can drill horizontally into your land. Iv'e heard that's what Kuwait did to Iraq before the first gulf war.

      Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • @Flash_Back You are dead wrong. A gas company can not come onto your land no matter what without authorization. AND the only way it can drill under your land is if they hold the sub-surface rights.

      Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • @Flanuva, Dorry, you are Dead wrong. What is a Compulsory Integration? The simplistic answer is it is an administrative hearing which streamlines the natural gas well spacing unit process. If a gas company has leases with 60% or more of the acreage in a spacing unit they can REQUIRE the balance of the acreage not leased by the operator to be included in the unit and the landowner then has a mere 21 days to make the choice of his or her lifetime. A landowner must choose one of three available c More..

      Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • @Flanuva


      I thought so but easements are built into many new subdivisions, eminent domain has worked in favor of big companies not homeowners, and the lawyers twist laws to help these corporations...

      Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • Comment of user 'MrPadaso' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Let the gas industry fuck.. i mean frack the earth, its only a matter of time before we poison ourselves off this planet anyways, they are just helping us speed that process up.

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • Where those faking idiots who proposed this in the first pace and blindly supported this? Where are the morons who complained that it was in America's best interest to get rid of the EPA? The same idiots who said the data on Fracking proved it was safe and would help our economy? TO ALL THOSE IDIOTS......fuk the economy I value my health more than money!


    More undeniable proof that Corporations aren;t ppl and their money should not be used in elections thru fundraising and lobbying. It does More..

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • Comment of user 'MrPadaso' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • but methane is sooooo tasty!

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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  • Pure Green Propaganda

    Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • Comment of user 'Cheesehead' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @Flanuva
      As opposed to the brown variety ?

      Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • @Cheesehead
      But many 'environmental' scientists are corrupted by big government. That's where their paychecks come from.

      Posted Sep-1-2011 By 

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    • Comment of user 'Cheesehead' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!