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Assessment of groundwater contamination and the role of hydraulic fracturing operation in Weld County, USA

Paper Topic: 
Hazardous Substances and Risk Analysis

Pages :
212 - 217

Corresponing Author: 
Alaa Jasim Dakheel Almaliki
Alaa Jasim Dakheel Almaliki Mohammed J.K. Bashir Juan F. Llamas Borrajo
Paper ID: 
Paper Status: 
Date Paper Accepted: 
Paper online: 
Visual abstract: 

In shale gas-producing countries, soil, and groundwater contamination due to surface spills associated with hydraulic fracturing operations is one of the most worrying problems that arise, since its elimination is not easy or cheap to carry out, and its effects persist for many years. Thus, this study identifies the environmental and health risks associated with the extraction of unconventional gas. The study was carried out based on the available data obtained from Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) regarding groundwater pollution from spills that have occurred in Weld County where fracking has become a common practice. Data sources related to spills were analyzed. A range of parameters that characterize the quality of the water were investigated to determine the groundwater quality and compared with the international standards to evaluate its suitability for different utilizations. The result showed that the groundwater is not suitable for human consumption nor irrigation purposes. The study shows that there are 33 surface water bodies, 17 wetlands, 23 livestock, and 31 occupied building are threatened with pollution. The study also indicated that about 80 % of cases of spills are due to equipment failures. It can be concluded that the most important cause of surface spills and therefore potential contamination of soil and groundwater is equipment failure. Oil surface spills are the main causes of groundwater contamination, yet the contribution of agricultural activities to the spread of this contamination should not be neglected.

Groundwater pollution, Hydraulic fracking, Oil Spills, Agricultural activities, Water aquifers.