The Environmental Protection Agency has released new information about its ongoing review of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and the impact on drinking water. Today’s report does not include any conclusions, but outlines the research process and timeline. The EPA study examines the entire drilling process, not just fracking. The Agency has broken up the process into five stages; including water withdrawals, frack water spills (which include chemicals used in the process), the injection and fracturing process, wastewater spills, and wastewater treatment and disposal.
The research will also look at impacts of poor well construction and the potential hazards posed by nearby wells, natural fractures, and the toxicity of chemicals used in the process. Two of the five case study locations are in Pennsylvania, one in Bradford County, and another in Washington County. Although the study focuses on fracking in shale formations, the EPA is also reviewing oil and gas fracking in tight sands and coalbeds.
The EPA says the results will not be published until the end of 2014. Before that, the research will be subject to a “Highly Influential Scientific Assessment,” meaning an independent, external board will conduct a peer review.