High rates of heavy metals in Texas groundwater near natural gas sites

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 10.13.53 PMCREDIT: AP Photo/Eric Gay

Researchers at the University of Texas are claiming to have found an unfortunate consequence of the gas fields in Texas. Nearly 30 percent of water wells out of 100 that reside above natural gas reserves contain unusually high levels of heavy metals, most notably, arsenic.

ThinkProgress reports that 29 groundwater sites within 1.8 miles of active natural gas drilling had unusually high levels of heavy metals. At this point, a link between the recent water contamination findings and hydraulic fracturing techniques cannot be proven. However, the team of 11 biochemists say their findings provide further evidence that could connect the two.

 I can’t say we have a smoking gun. We don’t want the public to take away from this that we have pegged fracking as the cause of these issues,” Brian Fontenot, the paper’s lead author, told ProPublica. “But we have shown that these issues do occur in close relation, geographically, to natural gas extraction.”

The researchers have a hunch that the fracking process indirectly introduced the heavy metals with increased vibration underground, shaking rusty pipes in the nearby water wells. That rust could contain arsenic they have observed.

The research was recently published in the academic journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Read the full story from Think Progress contributor Emily Atkin, “Scientists Find ‘Alarming’ Amount of Arsenic in Groundwater near Texas Fracking Sites”.

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