The threat that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, poses to drinking water is analyzed by the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA). According to Jeanne Briskin, coordinator of hydraulic fracturing research at the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, a preliminary report will be released in late 2014. The final study is scheduled to be published in 2016.
Since the US Congress directed the agency in 2010 to investigate the threat to groundwater and air from fracking, EPA is sampling water in two drilling counties in Pennsylvania as well as in Colorado, North Dakota, and Texas. Nine energy companies and nine drilling-supply companies have cooperated and so far, 1,000 chemicals have been identified as being used in the fracking process.
Mark Zoback, Stanford University, USA, said at a recent conference on promises and challenges of shale gas staged by the National Academy of Engineering that “drilling is a process that absolutely can be done safely, but it is not always done that way. The use of water, sand, and toxic chemicals might cause “micro-mini earthquakes” that free up the natural gas thousands of feet below ground.” In his opinion improved drilling technologies will allow to extract twice the gas produced today while using half as much water.
- EPA study on fracking threat to water will take years,
Beacon Journal Online 2013, June 18