Water Well Contaminated

Source : FrackCheckWV

Water Well Contaminated by Fracking, Under Conditions Prevailing in 1982


In 1982, the Kaiser Gas Company drilled a gas well on the property of Mr. James Parsons in Jackson County, WV, according to a 1987 EPA report to the US Congress. The well was fractured using a typical fracturing fluid or gel, common at that time.

The residual fracturing fluid migrated into Mr. Parson’s water well according to an analysis by the WV Environmental Health Services Laboratory of well water samples taken from the property. Dark and light gelatinous material (fracturing fluid) was found, along with white fibers. (The gas well was located less than 1,000 feet from the water well which was 416 feet deep. Four old gas wells were also nearby.)

The chief of the laboratory advised that the water well was contaminated and unfit for domestic use, and that an alternative source of domestic water had to be found. Analysis showed the water to contain high levels of fluoride, sodium, iron and manganese. The water, according to State officials, had a hydrocarbon odor, indicating the presence of gas. Mr. Parsons was unable to resume the use of the well as a domestic water source.

According to a recent report from the Environmental Working Group, “When you add up the gel in the water, the presence of abandoned wells and the documented ability of drilling fluids to migrate through these wells into underground water supplies, there is a lot of evidence that EPA got it right and that this was indeed a case of hydraulic fracturing contamination of groundwater. Now it’s up to EPA to pick up where it left off 25 years ago and determine the true risks of fracking so that our drinking water can be protected.”

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3 thoughts on “Water Well Contaminated

  1. Jeff Pritt

    The important item to note about this article is that the incident occurred in 1982, which means this was a vertical fracking job most likely at a shallow depth as opposed to a horizontal fracking operation a mile or more deep (which is under generally impenetrable strata and far below the depth of water wells). Also, the presence of the other older gas wells in the area is significant as well since there is no information provided as to whether they were plugged or not.

    There is no shallow fracking performed in a horizontal Marcellus shale well. All of the fracking takes place at a great depth where there is simply no possibility of contaminating a water well. There has never been a single documented incident of fracking from a horizontal Marcellus shale well causing harm to any water well. There have been problems with methane contamination in those areas where there are shallow methane-bearing coal seams combined with poor cement jobs around the well (which allows the shallow methane to contaminate local aquifers and then enter water wells). Surface spills are also a concern. However, the process of fracking itself in a horizontal Marcellus shale well is relatively safe.

  2. myles

    As per usual – you’re allowing your admiration of details to prevent you from seeing the big picture. What’s important about this article – is that in happened in 1982. And for decades the industry and the government has hidden from public view the disasters that have followed fracking operations (and used non-disclosure agreements to prevent residents from sharing their stories; settling damages/contamination/etc out of court for $$$). Not any more Jeff. The people are awakening and so is the scientific community. Duke University connected water contamination to fracking this year. http://www.naturalgaswatch.org/?p=381

    Municipalities, states, and even whole countries (think France) have BANNED the process. In your opinion, why would they ban it if it is “relatively safe”?

  3. RD Blakeslee

    Jeff is right. Fracking in horizontal well bores a mile below the surface has not resulted in any known contamination of water wells. The latest study I know of:

    “In this study, statistical analyses of post-drilling versus pre-drilling water chemistry did not suggest major influences from gas well drilling or hydrofracturing (fracking) on nearby water wells, when considering changes in potential pollutants that are most prominent in drilling waste fluids. When comparing dissolved methane concentrations in the 48 water wells that were sampled both before and after drilling (from Phase 1), the research found no statistically significant increases in methane levels after drilling and no significant correlation to distance from drilling. However, the researchers suggest that more intensive research on the occurrence and sources of methane in water wells is needed.”





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