For the first time, scientists have discovered chemicals used in a controversial natural gas drilling technique in water wells near the gas sites.
Scientists for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), testing wells near a major gas drilling area in Wyoming, have found traces of drilling chemicals in three wells, and other contaminants — including oil, gas, and heavy metals — in 11 of 39 wells recently tested, according to the Web site Pro Publica.
The chemicals are used in a process called hydraulic fracturing, in which drilling fluids and sand are injected under high pressure to break up rock and release gas.
Using the fracturing technique, abundant gas reserves are being developed in 31 states, although officials in New York have imposed a moratorium on the process — which uses large amounts of water — until its environmental impact can be assessed.
Congress is also considering a bill to regulate the process, but the gas industry has said regulation is unnecessary because it is impossible for fracturing fluids to contaminate underground water supplies. The recent tests, which may refute the industry’s claim, are continuing.
Appearing courtesy of Yale Environment 360.
[photo credit: Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica]