Major news outlets such as Bloomberg News, Business Week and Propublicaare reporting on a game-changing peer reviewed study commissioned by Catskill Mountainkeeper that predicts frack fluids can migrate into aquifers, directly contradicting the claims by the gas industry that these toxic chemicals will stay underground forever.
The new peer-reviewed study by hydrogeologist and researcher Tom Myers, “Potential Contaminant Pathways from Hydraulically Fractured Shale to Aquifers,” published in the current issue of Ground Water, demonstrates that fluids from highly-pressurized gas drilling activities can migrate from deep subsurface layers of shale to shallow aquifers and surface waters, bringing along polluting gases, chemicals and radioactivity. The study, based on computer modeling of pressure waves, rock characteristics and fluid mobilization in natural and induced fissures, offers an explanatory mechanism for previous reports of contamination of wells by deep shale methane in multiple areas around Pennsylvania.
The study accords with detailed fracture maps produced by structural geologist Robert Jacobi, showing extensive fracturing of deep bedrock, including shale layers in the Catskills and across New York State. Hydrofracking and other high-pressurized drilling activities seek to exploit natural and induced fractures in order to release methane gas, but migration of contaminated gas and fluids through rock fissures cannot be managed or controlled, making slow contamination of aquifers and water resources—over time frames as short as one year—extremely likely in areas of intensive drilling activity. This threat from deep level contamination therefore points to risks inherent in high pressure drilling activities above and beyond the already existing threats to human and animal health posed by poorly drilled wells and dissolving cement sheaths and casings, which are already well-accepted as mechanisms by which drilling activities can ruin water sources.
- Read the report abstract here.
- Read the Probublica story here.
- Read the Bloomberg/Business Week story here.