Hydrofracturing the Marcellus Shale – More than One Pathway to Contamination

There has been much recent discussion about the potential contamination of groundwater associated with the hydrofracturing of the Marcellus Shale for gas resources.  It is interesting to note that some of these concerns are about the potential for a somewhat indirect contamination of surface water and shallow groundwater resources associated with the “return” water from the hydrofracturing operations.

According to a recent article on the Environmental Protection website (see link below), 10% to 40% (300k to 3 million) of the three to eight million gallons of water/chemical mixture used for hydrofracturing each gas well drilled within the Marcellus Shale eventually returns to the surface…..along with connate water enriched in barium/strontium and other naturally occurring elements.  The manmade and natural contaminants in this “return” water pose a potential threat to surface water and groundwater if not property treated.


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