The Marcellus and Pennsylvania is in a starring role in the congressionally mandated study of potential impacts on drinking water from hydraulic fracturing. The slides from the webinar will be available at www.epa.gov/hfstudy. Here are the factual highlights of today's EPA webinar about the study's status and scope:
1. The study is looking at potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water from water acquisition, to chemical mixing, to injection of fluids, to handling of flowback and produced water at surface, and to the treatment and disposal of drilling wastewater.
2. EPA randomly selected 9 drilling companies and asked for data from 394 gas wells drilled by the 9 companies from 2009 to 2010. The 9 companies cumulatively drilled 25,000 wells in 590 counties across America.
3. There are 5 retrospective case studies looking at claims of water contamination. Those studies are in North Dakota at a shale oil site; Texas in the Barnett Shale; Colorado at a coalbed methane field; Washington County, Pennsylvania; and Tioga & Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania.
4. Water sampling was conducted from July to November 2011 at the above locations and will be repeated again from March to July 2012.
5. The EPA both through modeling and through actual data is looking at potential of discharges of drilling wastewater to streams from treatment plants to impact drinking water. The EPA stated it was using data supplied by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Region 3 to perform this analysis. EPA further stated that this analysis could focus on the Mon and Susquehanna rivers in Pennsylvania.
6. The next update will be in May-June.
7. The first report of the study's results will be sent to the EPA Science Advisory Board in December 2012 for peer review and for public comments.