Study: Fracking is not contaminating ground water in West Virginia

Scientists at Duke University have completed a 3-year study which found that fracking in an area of West Virginia has not contaminated groundwater there. From Fox News:

“Based on consistent evidence from comprehensive testing, we found no indication of groundwater contamination over the three-year course of our study,” explained Avner Vengosh, the professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment…

”However, we did find that spill water associated with fracked wells and their wastewater has an impact on the quality of streams in areas of intense shale gas development,” Vengosh added.

The researchers took samples from 112 drinking wells in northwestern West Virginia. Twenty wells were sampled before fracking began in the area. From a Duke report on the findings:

The tests showed that methane and saline groundwater were present in both pre-drilling and post-drilling well water samples, but that they had a chemistry that was subtly but distinctly different from the isotropic fingerprints of methane and salts contained in fracking fluids and shale gas. This indicated that they occured naturally in the region’s shallow aquifers and were not the result of the recent shale gas operations.

This is not the first such finding we’ve reported here at Hot Air. Last November, Jazz reported on a similar two-year study in Wyoming which found no evidence of contamination of groundwater by fracking. In that case, evidence suggested a problem which created a bad smell was likely caused by the EPA itself.

A six-year EPA study released last December concluded that there was evidence fracking had contributed to surface water contamination (as did the West Virginia study) but was silent on the issue of contamination of ground water. That was seen as a win by environmentalists because a draft version of the same EPA report had previously included a line saying there was no evidence of groundwater contamination.

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