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New concerns over fracking

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WASHINGTON -- Scientists have found methane and other gases pose a significant risk of contaminating drinking-water wells near natural-gas drilling sites, raising new questions about possible health and safety risks from the production technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

A study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found drinking-water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania within a kilometre of high-volume fracking showed methane concentrations six times greater, on average, than wells farther away.

The gas occurs naturally in the area's aquifers. But the study showed the chemical composition of methane in wells near the drilling sites is the same as the natural gas extracted in the area. Critics have complained fracking chemicals have fouled some wells.

-- McClatchy Tribune

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 29, 2013 D5

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