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Fracking Study Finds Arsenic, Selenium, Strontium in Water Samples

Jul 29, 2013

A new study is highlighting potential dangers associated with the natural gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

We’ve reported for several years on the many studies and incident reports which underscore the risks linked to fracking drilling. Fracking drilling is a process that gets natural gas or oil from underground shale beds. An underground well shaft leads to the shale formations about two miles below the surface.

In fracking, a drill is ushered to that rock formation with hundreds of thousands of gallons of fresh water, sand, and a mix of several hundred chemicals. This slurry concoction helps break apart the rock and release the gas. The entire contents that went into the well, along with the freed fuel, are supposed to be rushed back to the surface, collected, stored, and eventually processed.

In our previous reports, we’ve noted the myriad complications that can arise from fracking drilling. According to this latest study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas-Arlington, “elevated concentrations” of dangerous heavy metals were found in drinking water samples taken from wells near the active drilling wells. Included in these metals were arsenic, selenium, and strontium, according to a report from The (Charleston, W. Va.) Gazette. The study stopped short of blaming the nearby fracking operations for the heavy metal contamination but said that more research to determine the cause was needed, especially as more states consider allowing widespread fracking drilling.

Among the potential causes theorized by the study researchers was the use of faulty well casings used in the fracking process or the introduction of these toxins when fracking drilling is conducted, according to The Gazette.

In our previous reports on the dangers of fracking, dangerous chemicals, metals, and gases present in drinking water samples of people living closest to active wells have forced some to find alternative sources of fresh water and to cap their existing wells. Included in those cases was the presence of methane gas that neighbors said became a problem after fracking wells were first utilized.

Others have blamed fracking operations for decrease air quality and say that localized fracking drilling impacts public health, pollutes groundwater supplies, puts a strain on local resources, and is largely untested for safety. Our previous reports have included incidents of well blowouts that spill drilling fluids over a wide area and also put well workers at risk of serious injuries or death.

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