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Study shows fracking can pollute

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A new water quality study near gas drilling operations in northeastern Pennsylvania counters natural gas industry claims that gas and hydraulic fracturing chemicals can't seep into the drinking water of nearby homes, schools and businesses.

Researchers from Duke University and California State Polytechnic University at Pomona tested well water and aquifers in the Pennsylvania gas fields and found the presence of brine, a substance known to be part of the deep rock formations which are being fractured to release natural gas.

"The industry has always claimed that this is a separation zone, and there is no way fluids could flow" from the shale formation to the drinking water supply, said study author Avner Vengosh, a professor at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. "We see [in the new study] evidence of hydrologic connectivity."

The full report was published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. You can read more about the study in a story by environmental journalist Sarah Laskow, published July 9 on

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