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Water Pollution Risk Associated with Natural Gas Extraction from the Marcellus Shale

Water Pollution Risk Associated with Natural Gas Extraction from the Marcellus Shale

Author(s):
Daniel J. Rozell and Sheldon J. Reaven

Date:
12.2011

Journal:
Risk Analysis

Key findings:

  • Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing carry potential environmental risk due to their high water use and substantial risk for water pollution.
  • The study model identified five pathways of water contamination: transportation spills, well casing leaks, leaks through fractured rock, drilling site discharge, and wastewater disposal.
  • The potential contamination risk and epistemic uncertainty associated with hydraulic fracturing wastewater disposal was several orders of magnitude larger than the other pathways.
  • Even in a best-case scenario, it was very likely that an individual well would release at least 200 m3 of contaminated fluids.
  • Because the total number of wells in the Marcellus Shale region could range into the tens of thousands, this substantial potential risk suggested that additional steps be taken to reduce the potential for contaminated fluid leaks.

Citation:
Daniel J. Rozell and Sheldon J. Reaven, Water Pollution Risk Associated with Natural Gas Extraction from the Marcellus Shale, Risk Analysis Volume 32, Issue 8, August 2012, Pages 1382–1393
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2011.01757.x/full

Reception by the press:
Hydraulic Fracturing Poses Substantial Water Pollution Risks, Analysts Say, newswise, Aug. 6, 2012

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