U.S. Company Halts “Fracking” While It Investigates Causes of Blowout

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A large U.S. producer of natural gas from underground shale formations says it will suspend the controversial drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, at seven well sites until it has investigated the causes behind a drilling accident last week.

Chesapeake Energy has halted its fracking operations following a blowout in Bradford County in northeastern Pennsylvania that led to a spill of thousands of gallons of drilling fluid.

Fracking — which involves blasting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals deep underground to shatter shale formations and free natural gas trapped within — now accounts for 23 percent of U.S. natural gas production. But the rapid spread of hydraulic fracturing is causing increasing concern among environmentalists and some local residents, who contend the process is leading to pollution of water supplies in regions rich in shale-gas.

Chief among these regions is the Marcellus Shale formation, which extends across various eastern states, including Pennyslvania. Because of these concerns, fracking is currently banned in some regions, including the watershed for New York City’s water supplies.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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