Scientists have concluded that flowback from hydraulic fracking in the Marcellus Shale region of the Appalachians is comprised of ancient underground brine water as opposed to the fracking solution itself, accounting for its high levels of salinity and radioactivity.
Science Daily reports that a study conducted by Lara O. Haluszczak, Arthur W. Rose and Lee R. Kump from Penn State’s Department of Geociences found that the brine flowback, found in high levels during the later phases of hydraulic fracking processes conducted in Pennyslvania, had a composition consistent with elements deposited hundreds of millions of years ago during the Paleozoic era.
The scientists examined data from four separate sources and found that the chemical composition of flowback samples did not match that of the solutions pumped into wells as part of the fracking process, containing far higher levels of salinity as well as radioactive elements such as barium and radium.
The controversial hydraulic fracking process involves the pumping of water into underground shale formations to create fractures in the rock and release oil and gas deposits. The technology has triggered significant opposition in North America, with many expressing concern over its potential environmental and health effects.
The new findings raise further concerns about the potential adverse effects of the fracking process, which in some areas could release radioactive elements which have been trapped in the earth for millions of years.
The study also highlighted the necessity of the proper recycling and disposal of fracking fluids, including those employed during the later drilling phase.