Friday, July 8, 2011

DEP Says Oil and Gas Company NOT Responsible for Barium Levels in Drinking Water Well

Case and point, the unfortunate case of the young PA mother who was diagnosed with Barium poisoning.  When her story hit the news, it was assumed to be sure evidence of natural gas drilling’s health impact; after all chemicals were found in her drinking water and she lived in relative close proximity to a well.  However, one of the keys to determining if a link/pathway did exist between the neighboring natural gas well and her drinking water well was in the make-up of chemicals found. If her well had been impacted by frac fluid, an increase in brine chemicals above the general water quality of the region would have been a giveaway. Or if the changes were caused by gas migration then there would be the associated turbidity accompanied with an obvious elevation in levels of methane and other natural gas associated constituents.
A quick literature search back in April when this news hit the media, I discovered articles and research that related to her underlying bedrock geology with was associated with elevated levels of barium in aquifers. This information was readily available to anyone interested in looking beyond the assumptions. Anyway, to cut to the chase, Chief Oil and Gas and the DEP both investigated her claim and determined that the drilling activity was not responsible for the elevated levels of barium in her drinking water well.

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