Article courtesy of Staff Writer | May 18, 2015 | mybroadband | Shared as educational material
Samples of drinking water from outdoor taps were found to contain traces of 2-Butoxyethanol (2BE), a chemical compound in the drilling fluids used on the Marcellus Shale.
This is according to a report in The New York times, which cited a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Although this is the first completed case published which links chemicals associated with fracking to contaminated drinking water, the authors of the paper did note the amount found was within safety regulations and did not pose a health risk.
The New York Times stated that companies in the industry have long argued there is no risk that chemicals used in fracking could contaminate the water table, though.
The researchers behind the paper believe it shows that contamination is possible, stating the chemicals got into the water supply before stricter requirements were placed on drilling well construction.
Protective casings, even around deep wells
Drinking water samples were taken from three homes in Bradford County, Pennsylvania in the United States, whose owners sued the drilling company, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, in April 2011 over reports that natural gas and sediment was found in their drinking well water.
Despite admitting no fault, Chesapeake Energy was cited by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and in 2012 the homeowners settled the lawsuit with the company.
Thanks to the lawsuit, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recommended that Chesapeake Energy build protective “intermediate casings” of steel and cement around wells deeper than 1,000 feet.
Research validity disputed
The New York Times reported that 2BE is a chemical also commonly used in paint and cosmetics, and is known to have caused tumours in rodents. Scientists have yet to confirm whether the compound is carcinogenic to humans.
It went on to quote an energy industry consultant, who said the authors had no evidence that the small amounts of 2BE found in the water samples came from a drilling site, as it could have come from many household items.