A story on hydraulic fracturing – written by Associate Press reporter Ramit Pushnick-Masti – ran in many newspapers in Texas and across the nation recently. The story included many inaccuracies including allegations that drilling operations “may have tainted” water wells near Fort Worth.
The case brought national attention in 2010 to the process of hydraulic fracturing, because the regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. Al Armendariz, issued an emergency order against the company. The EPA said in a news release that the people living near the contaminated water wells were in imminent danger.
However, the facts clearly show that the water wells were not contaminated by wells drilled by Range Resources.
A variety of scientists from the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas activity in Texas, and private industry conducted extensive research of the situation, and found that the water wells were contaminated by methane gas from the Strawn formation, which is about 400 feet deep, and the water wells ranged between 120 to 200 feet deep. The wells that were drilled were fraced at more than 5,000 feet deep.
The RRC tested the water and soil around the wells, and it performed pressure tests on the wellhead of Range’s two wells, which the EPA failed to conduct. The wells passed pressure tests, showing that the leak did not come from the gas wells drilled by Range. And with the total depth of the wells being more than a mile below the depth of the water wells it is virtually impossible for natural gas to migrate all the way up through one mile of solid rock to the water wells.
Photo credit: darthpedrius (Creative Commons)