Friday, August 10, 2012

The connection between water pollution and shale gas fracking

Shale gas fracking could lead to increased levels of water pollution in many parts of the world. Shale gas (natural gas trapped within the shale formations) is becoming increasingly popular source of natural gas, not only in United States, but the rest of the world too.

The U.S. scientists at the Stony Brook University have found the link between the shale gas fracking and water pollution by claiming that the disposal of contaminated wastewater that comes from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) wells producing natural gas poses a major risk of excessive water pollution.

They have studied the intensively developed Marcellus Shale region that extends throughout much of the Appalachian Basin and discovered that the disposal of large amounts of fracking well wastewater that will likely be generated in this area presents major water pollution threat because of risks from salts and different radioactive materials such as sodium, chloride, bromide, arsenic, barium, all of which are common compounds in fracking well wastewater.

The scientists further claim that if only 10 percent of the Marcellus Shale region was developed, that could equate to 40,000 wells, and describe this by comparing the volume of contaminated wastewater with "several hours flow of the Hudson River or a few thousand Olympic-sized swimming pools."

The scientists have concluded that regulators and others should consider additional mandatory steps to reduce the potential of drinking water contaminated from shale gas fracking.

This study is not the first of its kind linking shale gas fracking and water pollution. Last year's study concluded that fracking has seriously contaminated shallow groundwater supplies in northeastern Pennsylvania with flammable methane, while in December 2011 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency( EPA) issued a draft finding which stated that the groundwater contamination in Pavilion, Wyoming may be the result of fracking in the area.

The shale gas development is a big thing these days and many industrial lobbyists have been describing fracking as a green alternative to renewable energy. Judging by the current looks of it the environmental impacts of shale gas fracking are not harmless as previously thought and require adequate management, with special emphasis on lowering the potential risk for contaminated fracking wastewater release.

Water is a precious resource, and the last thing this world needs right now is more contaminated water. Shale gas is currently extremely profitable business but  further development should also include solutions for potential environmental and health risks shale gas fracking may be connected with.

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