News Feature | April 10, 2014

Pennsylvania Fracking Wells Are Dangerous, Study Finds

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Hundreds of fracking wells in Pennsylvania pose a threat to waters sources, according to a new report. 

The research focused on fracking wells in the U.K. and Pennsylvania. It "found that public data from the U.S. showed that hundreds of recent shale gas wells in Pennsylvania have suffered failures that could cause water or air pollution," The Guardian reported.  

The study was published on March 25 in the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology

"One dataset highlighted found that 8,030 fracking wells targeting the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania were inspected between 2005-2013 and 6.3 percent (506 wells) were reported for internal or external well barrier failures," the Guardian said.

By the numbers: "One-third of a dataset of 3,533 wells in the state had been reported for environmental violation notices between 2008 and 2011," according to ClimateProgress, a progressive blog produced by the advocacy group Center For American Progress Action Fund. 

What are the takeaways from this study?

The U.K. may want to proceed with caution as it moves toward fracking. "Plans to expand shale gas 'fracking' in the UK must learn from leaks and poor monitoring at existing onshore oil and gas sites," the BBC reported, citing the research. 

Lead author Prof Richard Davies, of Durham University, said, per BBC: "Going forward, we know that shale gas exploration will require a lot of wells if it goes ahead, and it's important we make proper provision [for safety].”

Well failure is a good possibility. It is likely that well barrier failure will occur in a small number of wells and this could in some instances lead to some form of environmental contamination,” the study warned, according to RT. 

Very little data is available to answer major questions about fracking. "With European countries looking to replicate U.S. success with shale exploration, the study found the data on well failure rates of onshore wells in Europe were 'scarce,'" UPI reported

For more oil and gas news, check out Water Online's Produced Water Solution Center

Image credit: "East Texas Oil Well Pump," rcbodden © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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