Columbus Dispatch: State investigates groundwater risks

Dispatch relies on UC groundwater expert to explain public health risks

University of Cincinnati associate professor Amy Townsend-Small helped explain the significance of possible groundwater pollution from natural gas well-drilling in southeastern Ohio.

UC Associate Professor Amy Townsend-Small

Amy Townsend-Small. Photo/Jay Yocis/UC Creative + Brand

The Columbus Dispatch reported that wastewater from the well-drilling process in an injection well in Washington County migrated to gas-producing wells 5 miles away, according to Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources. The state is investigating to ensure the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing do not get into sources of drinking water.

Townsend-Small, an associate professor in geology and geography in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, said that is a priority.

“That’s the biggest concern for people who live in shale gas producing areas,” Townsend-Small told the Dispatch.

According to the Dispatch, Ohio has more than 200 injection wells that contain chemicals natural gas companies do not have to disclose publicly.

“The wastewater from that injection well, was apparently migrating to the surface through an idle or an orphan well. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to find it,” Townsend-Small said.

Read the story.

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