Fracking can harm water, finds EPA

18th January 2017

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Generation ,
  • Fossil fuels ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Energy


Alfredo Ramos-Lopez

A US study has found that activities associated with hydraulic fracturing or fracking can pollute drinking water.

The US Environmental Protection Agency identified cases, ranging in severity from temporary changes in water quality to contamination that made private drinking wells unusable.

One cause was due to spills during the management of fracking fluids and chemicals that resulted in large volumes or high concentrations of chemicals reaching groundwater resources. Another was the injection of fracking fluids into wells with inadequate mechanical integrity, which allowed gases or liquids to mix with groundwater.

‘The EPA’s assessment provides the scientific foundation for local decision makers looking to protect public health and drinking water resources and make more informed decisions about hydraulic fracturing activities,’ said the regulator’s science adviser, Dr Thomas Burke.

Fracking for oil and gas is common in the US and the EPA study was published as Cuadrilla began preparing a site in Lancashire for fracking later this year. In October, communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid overturned the county council’s refusal to grant the onshore energy exploration company permission to extract gas from the site near Preston.

The government and regulators in the UK are confident fracking can take place without harming the environment and polluting water. John Barraclough, senior adviser in the Environment Agency’s onshore oil and gas programme, told the environmentalist: ‘We understand the oil and gas industrial process and techniques, and have been through a rigorous learning process on fracking and assessed the risks. We have expert hydrogeologists and other technical people to assess applications and enforce permits.’

See the February issue for more on fracking.

Transform articles

Water companies fail to hit environmental targets

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

The UK government is not on track to deliver on its promise to improve the environment within a generation and is failing to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, a damning new report from MPs has revealed.

1st July 2021

Read more

Renewable energy will account for nearly 40% of the world's power mix by the end of this decade, overtaking coal within the next few years, according to research by GlobalData.

24th June 2021

Read more

The UK's solar energy capacity must treble over the next decade for the country to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but is only set to double under a business-as-usual scenario.

18th June 2021

Read more

The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) has today been launched to support financial institutions and corporates in assessing and managing emerging risks and opportunities as the world looks to reverse biodiversity loss.

4th June 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert