Preliminary Report Shows No Contamination of Groundwater from Hydraulic Fracturing

On July 19, 2013, the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) issued a statement that it has found “nothing of concern” in its study of alleged groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing at a site on the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania.

The NETL cautioned that the results are still preliminary, with data still being collected, analyzed and validated.  The study is based on the results of the NETL’s  use of “tracer chemicals” (fracking fluids equipped with detectable markers) to determine whether any chemicals from the fracking procedure migrated into the water resource.

A final report is expected by year’s end. This report comes within weeks of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to forego further evaluation of groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming, turning over that analysis to Wyoming officials. See previous blog posting dated July 12, 2013, EPA withdraws from continued study of water in Pavilion, Wyoming.

The EPA is continuing its broad study of the “Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources” with a final report due at the end of 2014.

The American Natural Gas Association (ANGA) said that it was pleased with the NETL’s  preliminary results which show that the natural gas industry is committed to developing the nation’s resources safely and responsibly.

The Sierra Club discounted the preliminary report by stating that “merely looking at one well or a handful of wells” provides “a very myopic view” of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing.