“Gas found in water wells within some shale drilling areas could be traced to natural sources, and was probably present before fracking operations began.”
The Press Association reports:
Claims that a controversial method of extracting natural gas contaminates water supplies are not backed by scientific evidence, experts have concluded.
The technique, known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”, involves shattering shale rock with high-pressure injections of water and chemicals deep underground.
Test drilling for shale gas in Lancashire is already believed to have triggered minor earthquakes.
But the biggest complaint about fracking, voiced by critics in the US where it is already extensively used, is that it pollutes groundwater with toxic chemicals.
A team of Texas scientists has now reviewed the evidence and concluded that fracking cannot be linked directly to reports of groundwater contamination.
The scientists found that many problems attributed to hydraulic fracturing are common to all oil and gas drilling systems.
Many reports of contamination could be traced to above-ground spills or mishandling of wastewater rather than the fracking technique itself, they said.
Lead scientist Dr Charles “Chip” Groat, from the University of Texas Energy Institute, said: “Our goal was to provide policymakers a foundation for developing sensible regulations that ensure responsible shale gas development. What we’ve tried to do is separate fact from fiction.”
The Texas team presented its findings today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, Canada.
It showed that gas found in water wells within some shale drilling areas could be traced to natural sources, and was probably present before fracking operations began…