On the topic of potential water contamination, the environment/ecology report notes that Michigan's dense, interconnected aquatic ecosystems (streams, rivers, lakes, inland and coastal wetlands) and the groundwater aquifers to which they are linked are of particular concern. The connectivity between surface and groundwater bodies "can lead to impacts distant from, as well as close to, drilling sites," according to the report by G. Allen Burton, professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment and director of the U-M Water Center, and Knute Nadelhoffer, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the U-M Biological Station.
The potential migration of methane, the main component of natural gas, into groundwater reservoirs has also received a lot of attention lately.
But the probability of significant methane leakage associated with deep-shale drilling involving hydraulic fracturing in Michigan "is quite low provided that best practices are adhered to," according to the U-M report on hydraulic fracturing technologies written by John Wilson, a consultant to the U-M Energy Institute, and Johannes Schwank, professor of chemical engineering.
The greatest challenge to understanding the potential public health risks of hydraulic fracturing in Michigan is the lack of state-specific data, according to Niladri Basu, author of the public health technical report and a former faculty member at the U-M School of Public Health. While thousands of hydraulically fractured wells have been drilled in Michigan, the potential public health risks related to these facilities have been poorly documented, Basu wrote.
For example, while operators of high-volume fracking wells are required to disclose the contents of their hydraulic fracturing fluids, operators of the 12,000 or so low-volume wells in the state ar
|Contact: Jim Erickson|
University of Michigan