Gas, O&M, Water Treatment

Chesapeake to allow EPA to test risks caused to drinking water by fracking

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) has agreed to allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to run tests at drilling sites in order to investigate the risks of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water, according to the EPA. Chesapeake, based in Oklahoma City, is the second-largest provider of natural gas in the United States.

The tests are part of a series of studies for a report that is expected to be released in late 2014. The report will include two prospective case studies, conducted at Haynesville Shale in DeSoto Parish, La., and Marcellus Shale in Washington County, Pa. It will also include five retrospective case studies in which the agency will investigate reported drinking water contamination caused by fracking operations at existing sites. The retrospective case studies will be located at Bakken Shale in Dunn County, N.D., Barnett Shale in Wise County, Texas, Marcellus Shale in Bradford and Susquehanna counties, Pa., Marcellus Shale in Washington County, Pa., and Raton Basin in Las Animas County, Colo. Companies involved in fracking at these sites include Denbury Resources Inc., Aruba Petroleum Inc., Primexx Energy Partners Ltd., XR-5 LLC, Chesapeake, Range Resources Corp., Atlas Energy L.P., Pioneer Natural Resources Co., and Petroglyph Energy Inc.

The seven sites that will be studied for the report were chosen from a list of 48 nominated case studies.

The prospective case studies will be important because they will allow the EPA to collect baseline data and make comparisons between the conditions of drinking water resources at all stages of the drilling process.

The results of the study will be provided to the public and policymakers in order to provide information to be used in decision-making process, according to the EPA.  The study will not determine the specific health effects of any impacts in the drinking water, and will also not look at concerns beyond the impact on drinking water, including potential air impact, ecological effects and seismic risks.

A representative from Chesapeake declined to comment specifically, saying the company is letting the EPA answer any questions about the study.

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