UTA: Air Contamination Not Inherent in Fracking

  New Study on the Impact of Fracking

New Study on the Impact of Fracking

A new study focusing on the Eagle Ford Shale Play, finds that air contamination around fracking sites is likely not inherent to the oil and gas extraction process.

Related: BLM: New Flaring Regulations Proposed

Since the shale boom exploded in 2008, controversy has surrounded the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), with many concerned about the potential environmental and health dangers. The University of Texas at Arlington published a new study last week that should be encouraging news to anyone involved in the oil and gas industry and those concerned about the dangers of fracking.

The study took samples around fracking sites in the Eagle Ford and found highly variable levels of benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene compounds (BTEX), but all within federally mandated acceptable limits for short-term exposure. The study goes on to suggest that these compounds are not inherent in the extraction process, but can be attributed to mechanical inefficiencies.

These variable contamination events, attributable in many cases to specific natural gas flaring units, condensation tanks, compressor units and hydrogen sulfide scavengers, indicate that mechanical inefficiencies, and not the inherent nature of the extraction process as a whole, result in the release of these compounds into the environment.
— Kevin Schug, UTA Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry and director of the University’s Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation, or CLEAR lab.

If this research proves reliable than it is good news because it means that providing safe fracking methods is within our control. It might also lead to shifting the debate away from crushing the practice all together to working to provide the safest procedures that benefit us all.

We hope that this research would help producers and other upstream operators improve the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of unconventional drilling.
— Schug