Duke Researchers Release Report on Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing

By: Michael K. Reer

On April 24, 2017, researchers from Duke University released “The Geochemistry of Naturally Occurring Methane and Saline Groundwater in an Area of Unconventional Shale Gas Development” – a peer reviewed study that examined the effects of hydraulic fracturing activities on water quality in West Virginia. Significantly, the study tested water wells before and after nearby hydraulic fracturing activities, and found that the test results “showed no evidence of anthropogenic contamination” in groundwater. The study also examined the effects of fluid spills on nearby surface waters, finding that the chemistry and isotope ratios of surface waters near known spills or leaks mimicked the composition of Marcellus flowback fluids. The study’s finding with respect to surface waters is unsurprising given that the researchers specifically targeted water bodies nearby reported spills. The industry blog Energy in Depth has posted an extensive analysis of the study.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

USGS Releases PA Test Results

By: Michael K. Reer

On March 6, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey released the test results of 75 private drinking water wells in Lycoming County, in north-central Pennsylvania. USGS found that water from most of the sampled wells contain concentrations of radon that exceed a proposed, non-binding health standard for drinking water and that some wells contain concentrations of arsenic or methane that exceed existing drinking water standards.

USGS states in its press release that the tests were carried out in 2014, in part, to assess the natural characteristics of local groundwater and the potential effects of land uses, including natural gas production, on local water supplies. Significantly, USGS found that water wells near unconventional development were of similar quality to water wells previously sampled in Wayne County – where unconventional development is not permitted.

Pennsylvania does not have comprehensive regulations governing the drilling and maintenance of private drinking water wells. The relatively high number of naturally contaminated water wells in the Commonwealth highlights the importance of conducting comprehensive water quality sampling prior to unconventional development.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017

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