UTA Research: High Levels of Arsenic in Water Wells Near Drilling

dataTechnically this is not a story about the Marcellus or Utica Shale, but it is a story about fracking in shale, and making a splash among anti-drillers, so it deserves our attention and consideration. Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) have just published a peer-reviewed study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology titled, “An evaluation of water quality in private drinking water wells near natural gas extraction sites in the Barnett Shale Formation” (full copy embedded below for MDN subscribers). The study looks at 100 water wells in the Barnett Shale region of north Texas. UTA researchers used data from the 1990s–before horizontal drilling and fracking began in the region–and data from their own tests conducted in 2011.

What does the data show?¬†It shows about one-third of the water wells have dangerously high levels of arsenic in them–levels that did not exist in the 1990s. The study’s authors theorize the high levels of arsenic can be tied to fracking and drilling, although they are quick to admit the arsenic did not come from drilling fluid contamination. How then, can you blame fracking?…

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