Study shows fracking moratorium remains smart public policy

A study showing the impact of fracking wells on groundwater is yet another piece of proof that New Brunswick’s moratorium on hydraulic fracturing is sound public policy to protect drinking water and the health and safety of New Brunswickers.

The University of Guelph study, Mobility and persistence of methane in groundwater in a controlled-release field experiment, concluded that methane leaks from energy wells can travel great distances in groundwater, posing serious health and safety risks.

“We asked if leaks occurred from an energy well, what happens to the groundwater and where does the methane go, and nobody had looked at that before,” said Aaron Cahill, lead author and groundwater researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Researchers experimented by injecting methane into the ground through energy wells, and found that the gas traveled through the ground, either entering the atmosphere or dissolving into groundwater.

The 72-day methane injection experiment discovered that although a significant amount of methane vented up into the atmosphere, an equal amount remained in the groundwater.

When methane dissolves in groundwater, it makes subtle, yet important changes to water chemistry, the report found. It says that bacteria metabolizes methane, and can generate hazardous byproducts such as hydrogen sulfide.

The report also found that bacterial reactions can release trace elements of chemicals which can change water quality and potentially render it undrinkable.

From the report’s findings, it is clear that New Brunswick’s fracking moratorium is a smart move on our government’s behalf.

“The moratorium was the smart public policy decision in 2014 and it remains the right public policy well into the future,” said our executive director, Lois Corbett.

“Our best bet for creating jobs right now in New Brunswick is through energy efficiency and clean power technology. That’s the road we need to take, and it’s the road that doesn’t put our water or communities’ health at risk.”

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