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Study downplays gas 'fracking' impacts

Nov. 10, 2011 at 12:52 PM

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Preliminary findings from a Texas study suggest there is no link between shale gas "fracking" extraction and groundwater contamination, its lead author says.

Charles Groat, a geology professor leading the study for the University of Texas's Energy Institute, said the dangers associated with shale gas drilling accomplished by hydraulic fracturing are largely the same as other oil-drilling operations, the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reported Wednesday.

"Hydraulic fracturing doesn't seem to be of concern to groundwater," Groat said. "If there has been water [contamination] related to shale gas development let's not look at fracturing, let's look at surface processes."

In fracking, millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals are injected into rock deep underground to extract natural gas.

Texas is home to the Barnett Shale, one of the nation's largest shale gas deposits.

Groat said problems associated with fracking are minor.

"The violations that we've seen are of no, minor or small impact," Groat said. "The impact on groundwater, the impact on the surface is not of anything substantial, certainly not compared to coal mines or metal mines."

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