US researchers test groundwater as fracking spreads into Ohio

A team of researchers from the University of Cincinnati have been testing groundwater in Ohio’s Carroll County (pictured) ahead of shale gas drilling that’s expected to spread into the area […]

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A team of researchers from the University of Cincinnati have been testing groundwater in Ohio’s Carroll County (pictured) ahead of shale gas drilling that’s expected to spread into the area over the next few years.

The team took samples from 25 wells in the county every three to four months for a year.

The samples are being analysed for levels of methane, other hydrocarbons and salt – which is also pulled up in the fracking process. Stable isotopes that can indicate whether methane comes from natural decomposition or fossil fuel extraction are also being measured.

As chemicals in fracking wastewater are toxic and dangerous for drinking water, future research will include measurements of these compounds as well.

Amy Townsend-Small, Assistant Professor of Geology at the University of Cincinnati said: “We’re examining changes over time resulting from fracking and since this is just beginning in Ohio we have the opportunity to make some baseline assessments.”

The results so far will be presented to the Applied Isotope Geochemistry Conference in Budapest tomorrow.

A top geologist downplayed concerns over groundwater contamination at a recent scientific briefing by DECC, saying she “wouldn’t be too worried about fracking under [her] house”.