The nation’s boom in natural gas production has come with a cost: The
technique used to get much of the gas out of the ground, called
hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has contaminated drinking water. But
how often and where this contamination is taking place is a matter of
much debate and litigation.
Now, a new study has found natural pathways of contamination — but that doesn’t mean the drilling industry is off the hook.
When gas drillers frack, they pump millions of
gallons of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, down into a layer of
rock called the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania. That helps free up
natural gas that then comes to the surface.
some Pennsylvanians say that polluted water may be seeping back up.
They report a salty brine, sometimes laden with dangerous metals, in
their water wells. Industry officials say no: The Marcellus layer is
over a mile deep — too deep for water to seep up through all that rock
and get into water wells.