Researchers Say Hydraulic Fracturing Flowback Could Pollute Groundwater With Heavy MetalsSource: Cornell University | 14 July 2014
The chemical makeup of wastewater generated by hydraulic fracturing could cause the release of tiny particles in soils that often strongly bind heavy metals and pollutants, exacerbating the environmental risks during accidental spills, Cornell University researchers have found.
Previous research has shown 10 to 40% of the water and chemical solution mixture injected at high pressure into deep rock strata surges back to the surface during well development.
Scientists at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying the environmental effects of this flowback fluid found that the same properties that make it so effective at extracting natural gas from shale can also displace tiny particles that are naturally bound to soil, causing associated pollutants such as heavy metals to leach out.
They described the mechanisms of this release and transport in a paper published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.