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Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Study: Fluids From Marcellus Shale Likely Seeping Into Pennsylvania Drinking Water

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica.

New research has concluded that salty, mineral-rich fluids deep beneath Pennsylvania’s natural gas fields are likely seeping upward thousands of feet into drinking water supplies.

Though the fluids were natural and not the byproduct of drilling or hydraulic fracturing, the finding further stokes the red-hot controversy over fracking in the Marcellus Shale, suggesting that drilling waste and chemicals could migrate in ways previously thought to be impossible.

The study, conducted by scientists at Duke University and California State Polytechnic University at Pomona and released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tested drinking water wells and aquifers across Northeastern Pennsylvania. Researchers found that, in some cases, the water had mixed with brine that closely matched brine thought to be from the Marcellus Shale or areas close to it.

No drilling chemicals were detected in the water, and there was no correlation between where the natural brine was detected and where drilling takes place.

Still, the brine’s presence — and the finding that it moved over thousands of vertical feet — contradicts the oft-repeated notion that deeply buried rock layers will always seal in material injected underground through drilling, mining, or underground disposal.

“The biggest implication is the apparent presence of connections from deep underground to the surface,” said Robert Jackson, a biology professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and one of the study’s authors. “It’s a suggestion based on good evidence that there are places that may be more at risk.”

The study is the second in recent months to find that the geology surrounding the Marcellus Shale could allow contaminants to move more freely than expected. A paper published by the journal Ground Water in April used modeling to predict that contaminants could reach the surface within 100 years — or fewer if the ground is fracked.

Last year, some of the same Duke researchers found that methane gas was far more likely to leak into water supplies in places adjacent to drilling.

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  • MikeCassidyAHS

    Everyone needs a job, HA, HA!!
    Mike Cassidy
    Utica, Md.

    • highpckts

      Your job won’t be worth anything when there is no drinkable water!! Nothing survives without water!!!

      • MikeCassidyAHS

        what I am saying in some areas of the country, having a job is more important than almost anything. I’m not 75% convinced, much less 100% convinced that flacking I safe.

  • howa4x

    The fracking of the layers of rock produse fissures that allow other naturally occuring minerals to seep upward. It’s like breaking a seal, and the pressure in the ground forces these minerals into a vacated space. Brine is a very salty substance used for curing meat/fish. It should be the financial responsibility of the drilling companies to protect ground water and there should be no arguement on that even from the lapdog conservatives. The tax apayer should not be responsible.

  • onedonewong

    So it has nothing to do with fracking?? Then why publish the article

  • dljones

    If you have the facts, print them. If you have maybe’s, “dig deeper.”

  • William Deutschlander

    Gosh folks not to worry, the oil & gas companies are buying up water rights, they have rightly concluded that they can make more money selling water!

    There is no such thing as global warming either!

    Seems like there could be a problem here!

  • Fracking is another clear indication that corporations in their lust for money really have no concern for anyone. The science is clear, fracking forces gas and other harmful pollutants into any space they can find, that is the definition of fracking. We do not need the gas yet, there is a surplus and we are shipping the stuff at a discount to ther countries. It is time to back off, study hard and create either a safe way to frack or drop it like so many countries have done.