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Study Finds Fracking Chemicals Didn't Pollute Water

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the it-was-like-that-when-we-found-it dept.

Power 237

RoccamOccam sends this news from the Associated Press: "A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site. After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water."

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Sounds iffy (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#44332435)

How can they be sure that they didn't detect the fracking chemicals when the industry continues to refuse to reveal the identity of said chemicals? It is nearly impossible to do a study where you watch for every conceivable chemical that ever has or ever could exist.

Re:Sounds iffy (2, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year ago | (#44332457)

I know, right?

It is virutally impossible to detect Dihydroxen Monoxide once it gets into the ground water.

Re:Sounds iffy (5, Insightful)

dlakelan (43245) | about a year ago | (#44332485)

It's pretty easy to run water through a gas chromatograph / mass spec and see if it has anything other than water in it, and how much of that stuff it has. A bit harder to figure out exactly what the pollutant is, but if you have a sample of the fracking water it's easy to look at the peaks the fracking water has and see if they appear in the drinking water even if you don't know the identity of the chemicals.

Re:Sounds iffy (4, Informative)

oreaq (817314) | about a year ago | (#44332873)

I agree, it wouldn't be that difficult. But that is not what was done in the study. An undisclosed amount of four unnamed marker chemicals where added to the chemicals used for fracking by a company at one fracking site. Within the one year the study has been running, non of these markers where detected in a predetermined "monitoring zone". Maybe the study has some value, but since there is no citation in the article and the article contains no facts beside the ones I just mentioned, it is really hard to tell.

Re:Sounds iffy (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#44332987)

Regardless of the results of the study, when a person turns on the tap and when what use to be potable drinking water is now the source for a Flair, it begs the question, "What Changed?"

Re:Sounds iffy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333115)

Translation: This study doesn't match my preconceived notions, so I must find some way to ignore it.

Re:Sounds iffy (1)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | about a year ago | (#44333239)

I presume that was supposed to be Flare.

Re:Sounds iffy (3, Informative)

Freddybear (1805256) | about a year ago | (#44333305)

Nothing changed. That area has had methane in the ground water since long before fracking ever happened.

Re:Sounds iffy (5, Informative)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#44333373)

Nothing changed. That area has had methane in the ground water since long before fracking ever happened.

this article only talks about the fracking chemicals being leaked into the groundwater... it does not mention the other problem with fracking, which is that it causes fault lines to shift and ruptures in the ground due to increased pressure. the latter is what causes methane to leak into the groundwater, which then gets into drinking water. methane is not one of the fracking chemicals, and therefore the study didnt mention it.

Re:Sounds iffy (5, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44332487)

The way I read it (yes, I read the article) is that they put a marker of some kind into the chemical brew being slugged into the ground, and found no sign of that marker in ground water. Now obviously there are still questions to be raised, but still, in and of itself, this seems a pretty reasonable way to determine groundwater contamination.

Re:Sounds iffy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332597)

...found no sign of that marker in ground water.

And ain't that a relief, the marker was dimethylmercury.

Re:Sounds iffy (4, Insightful)

Herkum01 (592704) | about a year ago | (#44332707)

It depends on the marker that they use. If the marker is something that is not as soluble or emulates the characteristic of the fracking recipe. You also have the problem of how they injected the marker versus how they normally proceed. A concern was that they were more careful in projects where they were injecting the marker rather than how they normally do business. Finally, Pennsylvania is not the only place they do fracking different soils and naturally occurring fault lines were major concerns.

Re:Sounds iffy (2, Interesting)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about a year ago | (#44333097)

One would imagine that if the marker was significantly different in solubility (or other characteristics) from the fracking solution, It would cause problems with said fracking solution, such as changing its viscosity, precipitating out or floating out, or any number of things. Based on this reasonable assumption, One would imagine that the marker was chosen to be able to be mixed into the fracking solution and remain a homogenous part of that solution. Thus, if any of the solution got where it was not supposed to be, it would show. If the marker had a predilection for separating itself from the solution, it would be more possible to throw a false positive (most likely way it would separate out would be to be lighter than the fracking solution and rise out).

But thats just my best guess, based on how *i* would come at a project like that.

Re:Sounds iffy (5, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | about a year ago | (#44332795)

The way I read it (yes, I read the article) is that they put a marker of some kind into the chemical brew being slugged into the ground, and found no sign of that marker in ground water. Now obviously there are still questions to be raised, but still, in and of itself, this seems a pretty reasonable way to determine groundwater contamination.

How is that even reasonable? Why not measure the actual contaminants and check elevation levels?

Here's a question that immediately comes up for me: What if the markers have different rock/soil permeability compared to the chemicals used in fracking? Are those markers closely enough in characteristics to the chemicals used as to be valid for purposes of testing exposure/pollution?

How about another one - why is the DoE doing this test as opposed to the EPA (who are likely more versed in measuring pullution)?

Not testing the presence of the actual chemicals/pollutants doesn't pass the sniff test for me. Something stinks here.

Re:Sounds iffy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332547)

If you would RTFA, you would notice that they're not just testing the drinking water for ytterbium contamination, they are using seismographic technologies to watch the spread of liquids in the fracking boreholes. That's how they can tell that one well's liquids migrated 1,800 feet from the target region (which is also noted to still be around a mile below the surface and far from any drinking water).

Re:Sounds iffy (0)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44332809)

Yes, but if that's truly the case, then where precisely are the chemicals coming from that are making the water flammable?

If, for the sake of argument, it really isn't the result of fracking, then there's still work that needs to be done to identify where the pollution is coming from. And yes, correlation is not causation, but it seems like a bit of a coincidence that the flammable water just happened to show up in regions with fracking after they began fracking.

Re:Sounds iffy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332941)

Yes, but if that's truly the case, then where precisely are the chemicals coming from that are making the water flammable?

That's methane. Any natural gas well can leak methane into the aquifer. If the top of the well shaft is poorly sealed, that can happen, with or without fracking.

Re:Sounds iffy (3, Informative)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about a year ago | (#44333119)

this effect also can occur naturally, without drilling. (I knew a person lived far from any drilling who could light their water taps. They would go out instantly from the water pouring with the gas, but it made an interesting flash.)

Re:Sounds iffy (-1, Troll)

Outtascope (972222) | about a year ago | (#44333173)

Which is just as big a f@#$ing problem as the fracking fluids! I have always thought they lost the thread on this thing by focusing on the fracking fluids, the energy industries Wookie in this case. CLEARLY the problem is natural gas in the drinking water! I could give a shit about the fracking fluid when there is a far more clear and present danger in the natural gas itself. To think that you can crack the substrate and still have control over where the natural gas goes just shows a level of malignant idiocy that ought to disqualify all these ass hats from whatever certification they claim to have.

Re:Sounds iffy (3, Interesting)

virtig01 (414328) | about a year ago | (#44333245)

Yes, but if that's truly the case, then where precisely are the chemicals coming from that are making the water flammable?

It's not the chemicals that make water flammable, but methane.

Of course methane exists in the shale where they're fracking, but it can also exist at various layers of the ground above the shale. Pretty much anywhere organic material is decomposing, methane can exist. I would bet that the origin of any methane found in drinking water is likely above the shale. It's possible that the seismic activity caused by fracking disturbs the ground high above, releasing methane into a nearby water source. But in some places methane is just emitted naturally; in the old days, people could take advantage of relatively shallow methane as a fuel source.

Re:Sounds iffy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333267)

It's dissolved Methane gas you fucking moron, and in most if not ALL places the fucking water did that before they dropped the first damn drill hole much less did any fracking.

Just beause You Read doesn't mean you Understand! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333201)

Although you claim to have read the f article, you seem to have gotten the facts wrong about what it said. Nowhere in the article does it indaicate that "they are using seismographic technologies to watch the spread of liquids in the fracking boreholes". While they are monitoring the fracking with seismic techniques, I beleive they are directly measuring the extent of the fractures via the seismic data. This does not correlate to how far the fluid has or has not spread. They are trying to measure the fluid migration directly by looking for traces of the the multple marker chemicals that they added to the fluid both in the water supply and in earlier shallower fracking wells.

Just because chemical markers in the fracking fluid don't migrate back up 5000 feet into the water supply doesn't man that the much more mobile methane gas released by the process can't migrate that far. This is why you see videos of people lighing tap water on fire. So, just because they didn't find these marker chemicals in the drinking water doesn't mean fracking is safe.

Re:Sounds iffy (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44332851)

It is nearly impossible to do a study where you watch for every conceivable chemical that ever has or ever could exist.

No it isn't. You just take out the water, take out the normal minerals found in ground water, and then see what is left. What they found was that nothing was left. Which is exactly what they should have expected. Methane is far more mobile than any fracking chemicals, and was unable to permeate the overlaying layers of shale for millions of years. So how could the fracking chemicals do it? Answer: they didn't.

That's even worse! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332441)

So what the hell is being done about keeping your damn hippie drinking water from contaminating my fracking solution??

But who was bribed ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332465)

We want names !

OK, That's One (this is a preliminary study) (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332483)

One site, one test well. Big whoop.

>shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site

> one was injected with four different man-made tracers

Re:OK, That's One (this is a preliminary study) (4, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | about a year ago | (#44332603)

Who picked the site? What was the criteria for selection? A year of monitoring also seems to be pretty short to come to conclusions when we are talking about the most important resource on the planet.

Jackson said the 1,800-foot fracture was very interesting, but also noted it is still a mile from the surface.

Love the lackadaisical attitude.

Re:OK, That's One (this is a preliminary study) (4, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44332871)

Indeed: http://www.howstuffworks.com/search.php?terms=fracking [howstuffworks.com]

The main issue does not appear to be that a properly administered site leaks fracking fluids into the drinking water... it's that most sites have no oversight and don't always handle the fracking fluids properly.

While it's useful to know that there isn't contamination from the properly injected deep-seam fracking fluids, this doesn't really help the people who are victims of sites where the injection column lelaked at drinking water levels, extra fluid was dumped at ground level, or any of the other hundreds of possible things that could happen... happened.

One data point... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332493)

Assuming everything's above the board (so to speak), these results are all fine and dandy, but this single scenario doesn't itself make for a glowing endorsement of fracking's safety. For one thing, I'm wondering how the results from sites with fracking-related earthquakes might look.

Does anyone really want to bet that aquifers near other fracking sites are just as fracking-chemical-free?

Re:One data point... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332651)

Correct. They basically added marker chemicals to the injected fluid, and did not find traces of those chemicals (which one would assume stay disolved in the fluid) in the drinking water supply above the site. This does nothing to prove that the much more mobile methane gas released by fracking, which you see on videos making tap water flamable, are not still migrating more than the injected fluid. That won't stop the industry from declaring that this study means that Fracking is 100% safe in every way!

Not possible (5, Funny)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#44332513)

It's not possible! The results are politically incorrect and will go against the dogma of 'we must be miserable'. Not to worry, someone will quickly find a way to bury this, spin this or otherwise make this moot. We can't let science speak, that's what we have greenpeace for.

Re:Not possible (2)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | about a year ago | (#44332607)

After a year of monitoring

Yay! It's safe! *phew*

Re:Not possible (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332913)

Comrades,

The monitoring program for Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station has now lasted for one year. Our scientists have discovered that levels of radiation outside the power station are no different from background levels. Our brave comrades in Pripyat need not fear to live in the shadow of this glorious monument to communism.

Certain imperialist American dissidents have dared to suggest that one year might not be enough time to determine if the power station is in fact safe. This is groundless; however, to eliminate these traitorous anti-worker suggestions, the monitoring program will continue for another year (making a total of two) before being concluded. That should put rest to any lingering fears. In addition, our patriotic operatives will continue their propaganda campaign to discredit these unruly dissidents.

In the meantime, since Chernobyl has proved to be safe, we will continue with our five-year plan of constructing one such plant in every town with more than 50,000 residents.

All glory to the Soviet Union!

Re:Not possible (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44333069)

It's a little obnoxious for you to be saying that given the amount of denial that is still going on with carbon emissions and evolution. I mean "We can't let science speak" is the motto for the republican party. This time the science backs up the pro-buisiness side, and you're acting as if the greens are trying to censor it? For god's sake, it's on slashdot: it must have been in the news three weeks ago!

Re:Not possible (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#44333453)

Your missing the point, greenpeace has absolutely nothing to do with the green movement. Replacement of coal with natural gas powered plants has done far more the green movement than greenpeace has in it's entire history. I could go on and on, but read up on the history of greenpeace, an organization so bad that even their founder has has turned on the.

I'm an old school environmentalist, from years before it was 'politically correct' to be one. Greenpeace has done more to harm the green movement than Koch brothers and chamber of commerce combined.

In this case. (3, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44332531)

Sure, it didn't get into the groundwater this time. My concern is whether proper studies are being done to ensure that other sites do not see different results from the supposedly clean ones here.

What about long term? (4, Insightful)

csubi (950112) | about a year ago | (#44332539)

Nothing made its way up in a year, hardly surprising.

I'm sure people will be happy when they see these chemical showing up in the water a couple hundred years from now, then discovering records about fracking in archives. They will probably say things like : they could not have been this stupid?!

Again, the problem here is timescale. One should not think in decades but in centuries.

Re:What about long term? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332617)

And how do YOU know that it would ever change?

YOU CAN'T.

Please quit making suppositions solely on feelings.

Re:What about long term? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332631)

One should also consider that every fracking sight needs this kind of testing - as the depth at where the resources they are trying to get is different and in some instances will be higher than that water table.

Re:What about long term? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332703)

Its almost as bad as storing a dangerous explosive gas below ground. Not just a few cubic meters mind you, but millions! I think we should do our best to take these volatile organic compounds from their unregulated and unauthorized locations -- and for the children -- dispose of them in such a way that they will not combust and threaten the lives of our precious innocents!

Re:What about long term? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332713)

It's also a mistake to think that the chemicals will move linearly over time. It's possible that material injected deep into the rock will remain nearly stationary for a long time, then suddenly be "squirted" many meters upwards when a small earthquake causes the rock to shift.

Re:What about long term? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332901)

And I take it you are the sort of person who believes that we need to observe how climate change models fits its future predictions over at least a decade before making policy decisions? I'm guessing not, and you will always side against industrialism

Re:What about long term? (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year ago | (#44332971)

They're not even thinking in decades here. They're thinking in single-digit years.

Come back and retest after 10 years of fracking, or test sites that have been fracking for 10+ years. Then they'll be thinking in decades.

Re:What about long term? (4, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#44333023)

You're asking for long-term thinking from corporations? Ha! They can't think long-term even when it'd benefit them, imagine when they don't give a shit about it.

No need to use that kind of language! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332541)

Keep that kind of talk in the bunk, Starbuck!

Yeah, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332593)

Yeah, no...

No, yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333079)

No, yeah...

What the Frak (1)

OneFangCat (2984839) | about a year ago | (#44332619)

Great! Now do it at hundreds of other sites and do it for the next 7 years with yearly reports!

Says it all! (4, Insightful)

Tempest451 (791438) | about a year ago | (#44332643)

"While the lack of contamination is encouraging, Jackson said he wondered whether the unidentified drilling company might have consciously or unconsciously taken extra care with the research site, since it was being watched. " Ya think?

Re:Says it all! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44332725)

The researchers seem pretty open about the results. It's one site, and clearly one site does not a full study represent. Obviously the industry is going to trumpet this as the be-all and end-all, just as they did with some preliminary research, now largely debunked, that fracking didn't lead to or at least exacerbate earthquakes. That's the part I'm still dubious about. It's rather like feeding a five hundred pound guy a near-fatal dose (if he was 200 pounds) of arsenic and then, when he doesn't drop dead after a few days, declaring "Arsenic is safe!"

From a comment on the story - so this is bogus (4, Interesting)

PoconoPCDoctor (912001) | about a year ago | (#44332645)

This segment of oil and gas propaganda was brought to you by the good ol' folks of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and its friends at ANGA. What a joke! I'm sure the American Natural Gas Association (ANGA) will advertise even more on your station now as a thank you for this puff piece you proffered as news. I live in SW PA. I sadly know many, many families whose lives have been destroyed by the onslaught of drilling and fracking. For them, this might be the most insulting study I have seen to date. Why not point out, CBS, that the state of PA never even had 1 cumulative impact study on human health or the environment before they allowed the takeover of our state and government by big oil and gas. No consideration whatsoever for what this would do to our health, our air, our water. We are here to be the guinea pigs and no one really seems to care thanks to a lack of media integrity and coverage about the reality of living in the gasfields. CBS should be embarrassed to even play along with this type of bought and paid for "journalism". Congratulations Duke! You found a company here that can drill and maintain a gas pad exactly as it should be without a single complication and did a study (like the 7 or 8% failure rate on the cement well casings. This is one of the major reasons we have had so much water contamination and methane migration in this state. Check the DEP numbers here in PA. That is failure of cement casing on just the completion of wells, not the overall failure rate, over time, that is much, much higher). It is terrifying to think about all of the damage that the fractures (1800 ft) themselves can or will do in addition to the failed casings. You seem there are hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells, and coal mines in all corners of this state that are further complicating this type of migration and contamination. Why not investigate that? Looking at one well and saying "Hey, this is how it is supposed to work when it does. See, it can happen." is not any kind of science or research that helps those of us screaming "WHAT DO WE DO WHEN YOUR DRILL SITES FAIL; WHEN YOUR FRACK PITS LEAK TOXIC WASTE; WHEN YOUR TRUCKS SPILL AND YOUR WORKERS ILLEGALLY DUMP ON OUR ROADS AND IN OUR WATERWAYS? WHAT DO WE DO WHEN WE CAN'T BREATHE THE AIR OUTSIDE OF OUR HOMES AND ALL OF OUR POLITICIANS and REGULATORY AGENCIES ARE BEHOLDEN TO INDUSTRY AND NOT THE PEOPLE THEY WORK FOR?" Now there's a story we here in Gasland would love to see. I will take any honest journalist on a tour of what fracking really looks like when things go wrong, as they often do, from the view of the harmed, the sickened, the destroyed forests and farmland. I will show you the massive frackpits that sit behind people's houses and poison their air. I will show you what black, putrid water looks like where it used to run clean and water animals. I will let you smell the smell of flaring and burning of god knows what from giant cyrogenic plants next to the home of toddlers and daycare centers. I will show you where toxic waste is buried on farmland and where water catches fire and well after well is destroyed, thanks to all of the disruption of the earth below it. I could show you all of this and yet the sad truth is that you wouldn't even investigate or report on it, just like the media round these parts. You have an organization to run and that takes lots of advertising dollars, not honest reporting. Just keep spewing the BS about jobs, safety, doing it right, American independence from foreign oil, and every other lie and industry talking point that you tell to justify the plight of my neighbors and the destruction of our land and the profit of your news organization. I'll be here shaking my head at your fault, but fighting back. I'll watch as our resources are shipped to China and India, while more and more foreign companies drill and have more rights in our backyards than the citizens of this state. I'll watch with great sadness, your participation in the destruction of my democracy. And I will continue to speak truth to power. My eyes were opened a long time ago. I understand how the world works. I know what part in the coverup media outlets like you play. I only hope that many of your viewers wake up and take your news for what it is, good old American journaltizing at its best.

Re:From a comment on the story - so this is bogus (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about a year ago | (#44332709)

You feel better now?

Re:From a comment on the story - so this is bogus (1)

honestmonkey (819408) | about a year ago | (#44332849)

He probably does not feel better. Being able to light your water on fire might make anyone a little queasy. Also, he probably doesn't live near the site they did the study on, so who knows what else is in the water.

Re:From a comment on the story - so this is bogus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333021)

Methane has been fairly common in well water for a lot longer than fracking has been going on. There's no evidence that fracking increases the incidence. Infamously, the area containing the famous scene from the first Gasland documentary has had trouble with methane in their water for decades. Of course they don't mention that in the film. Gasland 2 contains a completely fake scene in which an environmental activist hooks a hose up to a gas pipe and claims it is coming from the water pipe. They don't tell you that's fake in Gasland 2.

If the evidence of pollution were so strong, environmental activists would not have to constantly lie in order to stir up controversy.

Re: From a comment on the story - so this is bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333147)

There is no evidence because the industry are the ones doing the research. You can spin statistics any way you want through presentation alone. Just ask anyone in marketing.

Re:From a comment on the story - so this is bogus (4, Funny)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44332831)

They're obviously right, they use paragraphs.

Re:From a comment on the story - so this is bogus (1)

virtig01 (414328) | about a year ago | (#44333283)

Well this comment looks shockingly familiar [cbsnews.com]

Re: From a comment on the story - so this is bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333447)

There's nothing quite like a good ol' appeal to emotion.

Fire water? (2, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about a year ago | (#44332659)

But what about the videos of people lighting their tap water [pri.org] . Are there explanations that don't directly implicate fracking? I asking seriously. I haven't read up on those films and I'm sure someone has a perfectly reasonable sounding story for how that could be.

And suppose the fracking chemicals themselves don't migrate. What about the petrochemicals they've broken loose (which is the whole reason for fracking in the first place, as I understand it)? Can those work their way up into the water supply?

Re:Fire water? (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#44332893)

And suppose the fracking chemicals themselves don't migrate.

. . . they could be carried by a swallow . . .

Re:Fire water? (3, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44332947)

But what about the videos of people lighting their tap water [pri.org] . Are there explanations that don't directly implicate fracking? I asking seriously. I haven't read up on those films and I'm sure someone has a perfectly reasonable sounding story for how that could be.

And suppose the fracking chemicals themselves don't migrate. What about the petrochemicals they've broken loose (which is the whole reason for fracking in the first place, as I understand it)? Can those work their way up into the water supply?

As I understand it, when done properly, the petro and fracking chemicals either stay in the shale or end up back in the tankers.

The problem is, according to some studies, it's only done properly 20% of the time or less, due to the high costs of doing it properly and the lack of effective oversight.

In short, the chemicals usually migrate into the water supply due to dumping, accidents, and badly maintained equipment, not because they were properly injected into the shale/extracted and shipped to petrochemical companies.

Re:Fire water? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333033)

Methane has been fairly common in groundwater long before fracking. Of course, the environmental activists don't want you to know that.

Re:Fire water? (4, Informative)

steelfood (895457) | about a year ago | (#44333047)

I don't recally where I heard this, but my understanding is that the tap water was flammable even prior to the fracking. Natural gas was contaminating the groundwater long before people began mining it. The way I see it, it may be that more places have flammable tap water after fracking, but being able to light water on fire by itself is not indicative of contaminated drinking water. It's more just attention-whoring and if you abscribe malice to the media, then classic straw-man misdirection.

Stronger correlators, such as the tails of cows falling off after fracking began (I don't recall which, but one of the known chemicals used in fracking caused tails to fall off in laboratory experiments), would be a better argument for groundwater contamination.

The other thing to realize is that just because one area is not contaminated does not imply that fracking in general does not contaminate the ground water. It could be due to the specific geology of the area. Or it could be variations in the fracking process used in that particular area or for this particular test.

Re:Fire water? (1)

PraiseBob (1923958) | about a year ago | (#44333433)

being able to light water on fire by itself is not indicative of contaminated drinking water.

Not sure if you're aware of this, but water is not normally flammable. In fact, if it catches on fire thats a pretty damn good indicator that it is contaminated with petrochemicals.

Re:Fire water? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333135)

It was a valid way to find oil and coal in the early days of the industrial revolution to test the water for known contaminants. Methane, amongst other gases, have been polluting ground waters for millenia, without fracking needing to be involved. But sure, blame something that you don't understand and make yourself feel better.

Re:Fire water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333261)

It didn't sound like he was blaming anyone at all. I'd been wondering the same thing.

Re:Fire water? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333223)

The explanation for every one of those tap water fires is the same: shitty well bore zone isolation. Whether or not fracking was used in the areas around those communities, it's not the fracking itself that leads to the fires. It's the shitty two-bit gas co that used shitty half-cut cement mix and thin-by-a-third casing strings, which one after another fail over time, letting gas from their production zone migrate up the well and out into places it should have never had the opportunity to go. Fracking chemicals aren't even the issue, because in any competent well those chemicals will never touch anything but gas-rich rock, and steel to surface.

  A standard production well should have a minimum of 3 separate sets of steel & cement between the production gas and nearest surface aquifer. That's been industry standard practice for more than 30 years. As an oil & gas guy, I can promise you, despite the vilification, that it's not BP or Halliburton who cut those corners. It's the fly-by-night & brother, son-of-the-mayor & developer piece of crap wildcat bastards who drill, fail, and run away from projects they should have never been permited to start. Love 'em or hate 'em, the big companies know that they'll still be around in 30 years to face the music for shit they screw up, so they work hard to minimize their future pain.

Re:Fire water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333461)

People have been able to light their well water on fire long before fracking was even invented.

Wasting water (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332669)

even if fracking itself is safe. The process contaminates millions of gallons of potable water that becomes hazardous waste. And it can never be reclaimed.

Re:Wasting water (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44332985)

even if fracking itself is safe. The process contaminates millions of gallons of potable water that becomes hazardous waste. And it can never be reclaimed.

I wonder if frackers have experimented with using existing waste water instead of creating new waste water? Tailing ponds, treatment plant runoff, etc. It seems to me that there's already a LOT of waste water in holding ponds that would do much better buried in the shale. That would have the added benefit of not sucking the aquifers dry as fast (of course, aerated watering practices and shipping produce out of the aquifer's sustainable area are much more of an issue here than the millions of gallons used for fracking).

Not the only issue (2)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about a year ago | (#44332673)

From my understanding, part of the problem with fracking is that the well casings don't always hold. So the chemicals and methane can leak out farther up the well where the drinking water is. The failure rate is supposedly pretty high, with 5% leaking immediately and 30% leaking over 10 years, or something like that. I don't know exact figures and it's hard to know who to trust these days anyway.

Having just watched Gasland II, I don't necessarily trust the government's pronouncements either. According to that documentary (which is a bit propagandistic to be honest) the EPA did a study in Wyoming and found greatly elevated levels of chemicals in the drinking water. When the press release came out it gave the water a big thumbs up. Like I said, it's hard to know who to trust these days. Seems like everyone has an agenda.

Re:Not the only issue (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44333001)

Like I said, it's hard to know who to trust these days. Seems like everyone has an agenda.

Everyone's always had an agenda -- the consequences of those agendas are just more likely to affect you in an understandable way these days.

Re:Not the only issue (2)

phayes (202222) | about a year ago | (#44333393)

My father has a farm in wellsville NY, inside the Marcellus shale region. The problem with methane saturated water wells long predates the use of fracking as the area is filled with played out oil wells from the initial oil boom in the late 1880's but hey, why be rational when complaining about fracking gets you in the news...

Who??? (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a year ago | (#44332681)

Who did the study? Who funded them?

If its from a red state, toss that shit out with the used diapers.

Obvious conclusion. (5, Funny)

alexhs (877055) | about a year ago | (#44332683)

So, they didn't test water pollution, only checked that fracking didn't contaminate water by using markers.
Hower, other studies [npr.org] showed a correlation between fracking and presence of water pollutants.

Therefore, the only logical conclusion is: water pollution causes fracking !

Re:Obvious conclusion. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44332825)

So, they didn't test water pollution, only checked that fracking didn't contaminate water by using markers.
Hower, other studies [npr.org] showed a correlation between fracking and presence of water pollutants.

Therefore, the only logical conclusion is: water pollution causes fracking !

on some level that's actually probably true, areas where they give fracking licenses easily might have sloppier overall environmental checks, regardless of what the fracking happens to do.

some americans get really weird about drinking water though, like being afraid that some company is exporting the water from the big lakes to china as drinking water.. fuck if you can get someone to pay for drinking water from other side of the globe then do it!

Re:Obvious conclusion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332861)

fracking is safe

sex is safe

therefore,

fracking is sex

quod erat demonstrandum

paid article. bunk! (2)

helobugz (2849599) | about a year ago | (#44332731)

How much do you suppose CHK Energy forked over for that article to appear?

Article doesn't address other much more serious incidents all over the NE in recent years...

deep vs shallow (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#44332751)

Some fracking wells are very deep and have an impermeable layer of rick between the gas shale and the water table. In this type of fracking if is almost impossible to contaminate the water table. These wells have no more impact that the average oil well.

Some fracking wells ate shallow with no impermeable layer between the gas shale and the water table. In this case, when the gas starts moving it can contaminate the aquifer. That is where the burning water issue comes in.

The problem comes in that most anti-fracking groups look at all wells as shallow wells and most industry groups look at all wells as deep wells. They are both wrong. Deep wells are safe while shallow wells should not be done.

Re:deep vs shallow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333455)

NO, NO NO NO NO and one more NO.

The methane is naturally occurring.

What about disposal? (1)

generic_screenname (2927777) | about a year ago | (#44332755)

The initial round of drilling is only half the problem. Disposal after fracking isn't mentioned, but should also be studied. Fracking fluid disposal is prone to problems like spills at the surface level, which will contaminate an aquifer. Fracking fluid disposal has also been shown to cause earthquakes. http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2012/03/shale_gas_drilling_caused_smal.html [cleveland.com]

Only one year of monitoring? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44332779)

It can take years, decades, or even centuries for water to filter down into a deep aquifer, yet they've decided that after one year that there's no contamination from deep wells?

Sounds more like a study performed by the Fracking industry than real scientists.

Re:Only one year of monitoring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333095)

Take a class in earth sciences and understand how aquifers and contaminants work. than come back and revise this post so that you don't sound like an idiot.

Re:Only one year of monitoring? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44333297)

Take a class in earth sciences and understand how aquifers and contaminants work. than come back and revise this post so that you don't sound like an idiot.

Why would I take a class in earth sciences when I already took a class in Philosophy and I learned how to spot an Ad Hominen attack?

Feel free to point out the flaws in my argument, but don't deflect away from the issue by saying "Unless you're a recognized scientist in the field, nothing you say has any validity. Oh, and you're an idiot."

But before you do that, you might want to have a look at this site: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling [theoatmeal.com]

um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44332783)

So I obviously am not going to RTFA, but am I right that this has nothing to do with battlestar galactica?

Gasland II (3, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#44332887)

Watch Gasland II.
All wells will eventually leak into surface water. About 5% failure rate per year. (The cement around the pipe develops cracks.)
They studied one well which didn't leak in the first year.
Gasland II shows what happens when they do eventually leak.

Re:Gasland II (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333077)

Yes, use a fiction piece as the basis of your argument.

Re:Gasland II (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333339)

Gasland 1 [heartland.org] was a complete lie, why not repeat it since no one listened before?

Sounds reasonable (1)

Squeezer (132342) | about a year ago | (#44332899)

I know I'll get modded way down for this, but it sounds reasonable to me. How can fracking at depths of 10,000+ feet contaminate ground/drinking water that is less than 200 feet deep?

deftly sidestepping the real problem (1)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#44332927)

The real problem is natural gas that rises into the water table and contaminates wells. Not a mention of that though.

Burning Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333017)

We've all seen the videos where you can light water on fire, so not buying it until they admit to the problems and found a way to fix them.

Re:Burning Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333067)

You know those demonstrations were faked, right? They were pumping ethyl alcohol into the water line to dramatize the anecdotes, but there has not been a single, _substantiated_ incidence of actual "burning" water.

Behold, that's what a phoney denial looks like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333101)

Sure, there's nothing in the water, even though video after video shows how easy it is to set the gas in the water on fire,
and person after person shows their sores and health problems on YouTube caused by fracking fluids.

Fracking fluids are TOXIC waste.

The US federal government has been hijacked by EVIL corporations.

Not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333257)

1. They tested one single site.

2. There's still evidence of gas getting into the water and ruining it, regardless of any chemicals.

3. There's still the man-made earthquake issue.

This finding is definitely not an all-clear on fracking being safe.

And how do they know what chemicals to test for when none of the 250+ chemicals have been disclosed to the public?

Re: Not enough (0, Troll)

PoconoPCDoctor (912001) | about a year ago | (#44333343)

And how do I know you're anything but a shill for the fabulous frackers, AC man or woman or just plain shill? You do know that tests for water generally show a laundry list of carcinogens which are never found in those amounts in non-fracking areas, right? Shill away, AC.

Deep water wells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333263)

There are parts of this country that actually have water wells 3000+ feet deep. How deep do they go with fracking?

"the rules" which never seem to be applied (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44333317)

1) no person should be a judge in their own cause;
2) reasonable opportunity must be given to each party to present their side.

A weak but somewhat applicable metaphor from the movie version of 1776 in the character of Benjamin Franklin: 'surely you must understand that the term "our rebellion" is always legitimate, where the term "your rebellion" is always treasonous'.

"Proofs" based on selectively gathered "evidence" is also ALWAYS dispositive when it is "my proof" but NEVER sufficient when it is "your proof"; it is my memory that line was used some twenty years ago in some hearing being covered live by CSPAN, and the person making the statement essentially told the congress-critter to "piss off, we will waste no more of our time outside of a court of final disposition where you and your sycophants have no say in the decision".

peaceful protest stopped our local fracking (1)

bigtreeman (565428) | about a year ago | (#44333367)

No background testing has been done to ascertain what chemicals naturally occur. No permanent testing has been mandated. Independent testing is the only believable testing, who pay-rolled the testing who is involved in the testing, there is a revolving door between industry and government so many are tainted. If in doubt, don't do it. The protests worked in northern NSW, home of the tree-hugging hippy.

The right idea but (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#44333377)

....groundwater moves 1) very slowly, and 2) horizontally as well as vertically.

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