SRA Upstate New York Issues Summary of Findings from Teleseminar Series on Hydraulic Fracturing

The recent seminar series, entitled “Studies on Impact of Natural Gas Extraction from Marcellus Shale on Water Resources,” featured six presentations by researchers focusing on the development of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in this area.

Extracting U.S. reserves of natural gas in shale formations involves multiple, complex processes. The possibility that these processes may contaminate groundwater and air, with potential human health impacts, has been the subject of growing public concern, according to a report on the seminar series recently prepared by Peter McClure, Senior Toxicologist at SRC, Inc. The series presented examples of the research, both completed to date and needed for the future, that will allow us to better assess the risks involved.

McClure’s report documents the range of contributions made by the seminar’s presenters, from the first presentation in January, 2014, by Jeanne Briskin of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, who provided an overview of 17 projects making up the agency’s study of potential impacts on drinking water, to the last one in June, in which Pouné Saberi of the University of Pennsylvania discussed the results of a survey of health perception in patients in a primary care medical office in an affected northern Pennsylvania county. 

In between, research presented in February by Robert Jackson of Duke University on gas contamination of residential water wells in relation to distance from gas wells in Pennsylvania showed strategies were needed to better determine the sources of gas contamination.  Additional recommendations for research to improve understanding of possible risks were offered by Trevor Penning of the University of Pennsylvania in March. The April presentation from Reynold Panittieri of the University of Pennsylvania concerned a study of whether health care utilization might be associated with gas well density or well water quality.  And in May, Sheila Olmstead of the University of Texas and Resources for the Future discussed implications for Pennsylvania rivers and streams.

For detailed information on this informative seminar series about ongoing research and future research needs in this area, go to the SRA Upstate New York site here. Slides for all six presentations are available at the site, plus SRA-Upstate’s report on the events and the full report from McClure summarizing the content of the presentations.