I've blogged previously about the incredible impact that hydraulic fracturing technology and the nearly half a million natural gas wells that have been drilled in the US have had on the US energy industry, the potential in Europe and some of the environmental issues that have been raised.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was mandated by Congress to undertake a study of the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water in the U.S. The EPA has just released its Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources, referred to as the HF study.
The HF study is intended to assess the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources primarily focussing on HF in shale formations. The HF study intends to answer five questions about the impact of HF on drinking water resources.
- Water Acquisition: What are the impacts of large volume water withdrawals from ground and surface waters ?
- Chemical Mixing: What are the impacts of surface spills resulting from hydraulic fracturing fluids ?
- Well Injection: What are the impacts of the injection and fracturing process ?
- Flowback and Produced Water: What are the impacts of surface spills of flowback and produced water ?
- Wastewater Treatment and Waste Disposal: What are the impacts of inadequate treatment of HF wastewaters ?
The HF study will be conducted by a multidisciplinary teams of EPA researchers, in collaboration with outside experts from the public and private sector.
EPA says that it recognizes that HF impacts may affect other aspects of the environment in addition to drinking water resources, for example, air, ecology, seismic, public safety, and occupational risks, but says that these are outside the scope of the HF study.