02 May 2012:
Fracking Fluid Can Migrate
Into Marcellus Aquifers, New Study Says
A new study estimates that fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region can migrate into underground drinking water supplies far more quickly
than experts have
previously estimated. The study, based on computer modeling and funded by opponents of fracking, concluded that natural faults and fractures in the Marcellus shale, exacerbated by the effects of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” could allow chemicals to reach shallow drinking water supplies in as little as “just a few years.” Companies involved in fracking for natural gas have maintained that impermeable layers of rock in the Marcellus Shale formation would keep fracking fluids safely locked nearly a mile below water supplies. But independent hydrologist Tom Myers, who published his study in the journal Ground Water
, says his modeling shows that is not the case. “Simply put, [the rock layers] are not impermeable,” said Myers. The Marcellus Shale underlies large portions of the northeastern U.S., and thousands of fracking wells — each often using millions of gallons of water — have been drilled in recent years. The study was funded by two organizations opposed to gas fracking, and some scientists strongly disagree with its conclusions.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s unspoiled coral reefs. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.