Tuesday, May 05, 2015

White foam in Pennsylvania drinking water linked to Marcellus Shale gas well sites

White foam found in drinking water in three homes in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, (Family Search map) was likely caused by Marcellus Shale gas well sites, said a study by researchers at Penn State University and Appalachia Hydrogeologic and Environmental Consulting published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Laura Legere reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"Test results from commercial laboratories during investigations at the sites had not picked up on what was causing the foaming—they reported no unsafe levels of compounds other than natural gas in the water, while other compounds, like glycols and surfactants, had appeared inconsistently or at barely detectable levels," Legere writes. "The same or similar organic compounds that the researchers traced in the water, including 2-n-Butoxyethanol, or 2-BE, are known to be used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing additives or to appear in waste fluids from oil and gas operations."

"Researchers said it is impossible to 'prove unambiguously' that the contaminants in the water came from shale gas-related activities because they were unable to secure samples of fluids that were used at or near the well site," Legere writes. "But they said that multiple strands of evidence, including timing, well construction problems and the presence of matching compounds in both shale fluids and the water wells, make shale activity 'the most probable source.'”

A spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition "said that significant technological advancements and stronger regulations have been developed in recent years to protect groundwater, 'which is a top industry priority,'” Legere writes.

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