Fracking Contamination ‘Will Get Worse’: Alberta Expert Dr. Karlis Muehlenbachs

Fracking Contamination ‘Will Get Worse’: Alberta Expert by Andrew Nikiforuk, December 19, 2011,
Earlier this month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that EnCana, the continent’s second largest shale gas producer, had contaminated groundwater in Pavillion, Wyoming. Those findings, which contradict industry assurances, didn’t surprise Muehlenbachs, who has studied leaking wells in Alberta’s heavy oil fields for decades.… “The way I read the EPA report, the surface casings were too short and that the cementing was inadequate and then they fracked at very shallow depths. It’s almost negligence,” says 67-year-old Muehlenbachs…. “They’ll frack each well up to 20 times. Each time the pressure will shudder and bang the pipes in the wellbore. The cement is hard and the steel is soft. If you do it all the time you are going to break bonds and cause leaks. It’s a real major issue.”… Whenever methane leaks from one well into a neighboring wellsite, “industry says let’s fix the leaks,” says Muehlenbachs. “But as soon as the leaks enter groundwater, everyone abandons the same logic and technology and says it can’t happen and the denials come out. In Alberta, it’s almost a religious belief that gas leaks can’t contaminate groundwater.”… Asked if Alberta’s oil patch regulator or B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission had approached one of the world’s leading experts on how to fingerprint leaking gases from gas formations, Muehlenbachs replied quickly. “No,” said Muehlenbachs. “No one pays any attention to me. The Alberta regulators are only interested in optimizing production.” [Emphasis added]

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