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Study Finds Fracking in California Groundwater Formations

In California’s agricultural heartland, up to 1 in 5 oil and gas hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” projects occurs in underground sources of fresh water, according to a new study.

Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been the victim of water or air contamination caused by fracking, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.

What’s the Problem?

June 28, 2016 – The study, published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), looked at the amount of groundwater that could be used for irrigation and drinking supplies in 5 California central valley counties, as well as Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura. Researchers estimated that drought-plagued California could have almost 3 times as much fresh groundwater as previously estimated.

However, the study also found that oil and gas activity occurred in underground freshwater formations in 7 of the 8 counties assessed. Most of the activity was minor, but in Kern County, the hub of California’s oil industry, 15-19% of oil and gas activity occurs in freshwater zones, according to the researchers.

The encroachment of oil and gas development on underground freshwater formations highlights the vulnerability of California’s groundwater, and the need for strict monitoring of it, the study’s authors said.

“We don’t know what effect oil and gas activity has had on groundwater resources, and one reason to highlight this intersection is to consider if we need additional safeguards on this water,” said Robert B. Jackson, professor of environment and energy at Stanford University and co-author of the study.

The new research comes amid California’s struggle to deal with the impact of past oil and gas activity on its groundwater resources, and its attempt to develop new fossil fuel reservoirs through the fracking process. In 2014, state officials admitted that for years they had allowed oil and gas companies to pump billions of gallons of wastewater into over 2,000 wells located in federally protected aquifers. Last year, Kern County officials found hundreds of unlined, unregulated wastewater pits, many near farm fields. Oil and gas wastewater is highly saline and contains toxic substances such as benzene.

Environmental groups pointed to the study as another reason to ban fracking in California. The state instead chose to allow fracking, adopting the new SB 4 law, which is among the strictest in the U.S. to govern the industry, requiring drilling companies to test groundwater before and after fracking, as well as to disclose all chemicals used in fracking fluid.

Do I Need a Fracking Lawyer?

The Workplace and Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in fracking lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new air and groundwater contamination cases in all 50 states.

Free Confidential Case Evaluation: Again, if your air or drinking water has been contaminated due to methane migration or other consequences of hydraulic fracking, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.

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