Monday, June 24, 2013

Newest Duke Study: Higher Methane Levels in Water Wells closer to Drilling

A new study out of Duke University, released today by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that people living closer to Marcellus gas wells have a higher chance of getting methane - and other chemicals - in their drinking water than people living farther away. This new study expands and confirms findings of an earlier Duke study two years ago.

The team sampled 81 new drinking water wells in six northeastern Pennsylvania counties, and combined data with results from 60 previously sampled wells in PA and Otsego County, NY. Researchers found methane in drinking water of 82% of the 141 homes - and concentrations were six times higher in those homes that were within a kilometer of a gas well. A kilometer is 3280 feet. Currently, many gas companies test water wells within 1,000 feet of proposed gas wells. Clearly not far enough, given Duke's study.

Not only did those homes have higher methane than "allowable" levels, but they also had higher levels of ethane and propane. These are components of the deep gas that shale gas drillers seek, not "biogenic" gas from upper layers.

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