By Norberto Ovando *
The study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas in the city of Arlington reported that they found potentially unhealthy high levels of arsenic in water wells that are scattered throughout North Texas. They also detected chemicals that are used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract unconventional gas.
The study, which was conducted last year, included 100 water wells in the Barnett Shale, 10 of which are located in Denton County. A team of 11 scientists from the University of Texas found that 30 percent of wells within a 1.8-mile (2.88-kilometer) radius of drilling for natural gas showed an increase in metals. heavy, including arsenic.
"It was alarming to find high concentrations of arsenic," said Dr. Zacariah Hildenbrand, a biochemist at the University. "This is direct evidence that drilling affects the water."
The researchers compared the results with previous water tests conducted in the same area across the region 10 years ago before the Barnett Shale boom was installed to get gas unconventionally. They believe that the vibration from drilling or hydraulic fracturing shakes the pipeline of nearby wells, causing arsenic-contaminated mold to fall into fresh water. The scientists referred to these vibrations as "drilling pressure waves."
Alex Mills, president of the Texas Power Producers Alliance in Wichita Falls, which markets industrial oil and gas, said, “I have never heard that hydraulic fracturing is so violent that the earth shakes and molds out of the pipes. water wells".
The researchers recognized that other factors could have caused the water contamination, including, for example, "Hydrogeological chemical changes in lower water tables or industrial accidents such as a faulty cover on a gas well."
According to the study carried out by the University, which was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, “… The maximum concentration of arsenic shows that in an active area of unconventional gas extraction, it is almost 18 times higher than the concentration maximum between the non-active or reference samples and the historical levels of this region ”.
The maximum contamination limit that the Environmental Protection Agency allows for arsenic is 10 parts per billion. Any level that exceeds this is considered dangerous. The team of researchers found that 29 out of 90 water wells exceeded that standard. Methanol and ethanol, two chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, were also detected in 29 percent of the water samples.
Responsible Denton citizens have spoken loudly and clearly at the polls, making Denton the first city in Texas to ban hydraulic fracturing. The ban should take effect around Dec. 2, Mayor Chris Watts said.
* President / Friends of National Parks Association - AAPN - Expert World Commission on Protected Areas - WCPA - of the IUCN - Latin American Network of Protected Areas - RELAP -
Hydraulic Fracture NO