20 Aug 2014
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SBU Study: Fracking Presents High Water Pollution Risk

Study concludes that more regulation of hydraulic fracturing is necessary to prevent widespread water pollution problems.

SBU Study: Fracking Presents High Water Pollution Risk

Scientists at Stony Brook University have published a study that found a significant risk of water pollution could result from hydraulic fracturing, commonly called "fracking" or "hydrofracking," a process used to extract natural gas from the earth.

According to the authors of the study, Daniel Rozell, a Stony Brook doctoral student, and Sheldon Reaven, a professor in the Department of Technology and Society, more regulation shoud be enacted to prevent fracking wastewater from presenting the risk of contaminating drinking water.

Current wastewater treatment facilities "are not designed to handle hydraulic fracturing wastewater containing high concentrations of salts or radioactivity two or three orders of magnitude in excess of federal drinking water standards," Rozell and Reaven wrote in their study, which was published in the August edition of the journal Risk Analysis.

The process of hydrofracking entails the pumping of fluids into underground shale formations, which releases pockets of natural gas that are then pumped up to the surface.

Already along those lines, two Suffolk County legislators in February began that would prevent county wastewater treatment facilities from accepting hydrofracking wastewater.

The study focused on the approximately 124,000 square kilometers from New York to West Virginia known as the Marcellus Shale Region. According to the study, this region is in the process of being heavily developed.

The study examined water pollution pathways, such as a tanker truck spilling its contents, failure of well casings that could leak fluids to groundwater, spills at the drilling surface, and more.

"Future research efforts should be focused primarily on wastewater disposal and specifically on the efficacy of contaminant removal by industrial and municipal wastewater treatment facilities," the authors of the study concluded.

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