UK risks grappling with contaminated water sources, as fracked wells may seep out underground, warned independent academic firm Researching Fracking in Europe (ReFINE) in a study backed by the British Geological Survey.
The research found that hundreds of new shale wells, about 6 percent of all drilled wells, in Pennsylvania in US reported leaks that could result in air or water pollution.
“The research confirms that well failure in hydrocarbon wells is an issue and that publicly available data in Europe on this seems to be sparse,” said Durham University’s Professor Richard Davies, who led the researchers in the study. “In the UK, wells are monitored by well inspectors but there is no information in the public domain, so we don’t really know the full extent of well failures. There were unknowns we couldn’t get to the bottom of.”
The findings of these research is a huge setback to the British Government, which is promoting the use of fracking to unlock shale gas in a bid to reduce energy bill and has always backed the process as safe.
Fracking is a technique that involves drilling a deep well and then pumping sand, water and chemicals through it at high pressure in order to fracture rocks and release trapped shale oil or gas.
Mr Davies, in an earlier research by ReFINE, said that fracking is “highly unlikely” to contaminate groundwater sources as the factures were located too deep underground. However, in the new study released on Tuesday, he said that weak cement seals could cause oil or gas to seep out.
“A few years ago people were saying fracking causes water contamination. We have robustly researched that… and we have not found any evidence that fracking is the problem,” he said, according to the Telegraph. “It’s the boreholes that could cause water contamination, and emissions into the atmosphere.”
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