Tapping a Valuable Resource or Invading the Environment? Research Examines the Start of Fracking in Ohio by Science Daily, September 25, 2013
A new study is examining methane and other components in groundwater wells, in advance of drilling for shale gas that’s expected over the next several years in an Ohio region. Amy Townsend-Small, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of geology, will present on the study on Sept. 27, at the 10th Applied Isotope Geochemistry Conference in Budapest, Hungary. The team of UC researchers spent a year doing periodic testing of groundwater wells in Carroll County, Ohio, a section of Ohio that sits along the shale-rich Pennsylvania-West Virginia borders. The study analyzed 25 groundwater wells at varying distances from proposed fracking sites in the rural, Appalachian, Utica Shale region of Carroll County. Because the region is so rural, the majority of the population relies on groundwater wells for their water supply. …
The researchers are currently analyzing samples from groundwater wells over a one-year period, with water samples drawn every three-to-four months. The samples are being analyzed for concentrations of methane as well as hydrocarbons — a carcinogenic compound — and salt, which is pulled up in the fracking water mixture from the shales, which are actually ancient ocean sediments. “We’re examining changes over time resulting from fracking, and since this is just beginning in Ohio, we have the opportunity to make some baseline assessments,” says Townsend-Small.
Townsend-Small explains that some groundwater wells naturally hold a certain level of methane due to the decomposition of organic matter. It’s not toxic in drinking water, but high levels can result in explosion. … Other chemicals in fracking wastewater are toxic and dangerous for drinking water. Future UC research includes measurements of some of these compounds, as fracking progresses in the region. … Townsend-Small and her colleagues in the UC Department of Geology were also awarded a $400,000, 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation (EAR-1229114) for an isotope ratio mass spectrometer. The instrument measures the stable isotope composition of methane, which can indicate whether it is derived from biological activity or natural gas. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Brief review of threats to Canada’s groundwater from the oil and gas industry’s methane migration and hydraulic fracturing by Ernst Environmental Services (EES), June 16, 2013
French Translation by Amie du Richelieu, June 16, 2013