Pennsylvania Natural Gas Study Reveals No Major Spills In Surface Water But Did Not Examine Aquifers

PITTSBURGH (AP), March 12, 2013 — Pennsylvania’s waterways show little evidence of damage from toxic chemical spills from its fast-growing natural gas industry, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

The study examined the impact of gas drilling on surface water from the drilling boom but did not address questions of whether drilling has polluted underground aquifers, a main concern of environmental advocates.

Lead author Sheila Olmstead said the study of almost 5,000 gas drilling sites around the state didn’t find evidence in waterways of significant chemical spills from drill sites, but did note a five percent increase in suspended solids — generally dirt, leaves and other materials — downstream. Suspended solids can be the result of runoff from development, although Olmstead conceded the study doesn’t pinpoint the source of the dissolved solids pollution.

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