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High Levels of Arsenic Found in Groundwater Near Fracking Sites

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Arsenic near fracking siteA recently published study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale.

While the findings are far from conclusive, the study provides further evidence tying fracking to arsenic contamination. An internal Environmental Protection Agency PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times warned that wells near Dimock, PA, showed elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater. The EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] also found arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in Pavillion, WY, in 2009—a study the agency later abandoned.

ProPublica talked with Brian Fontenot, the paper’s lead author, about how his team carried out the study and why it matters. (Fontenot and another author, Laura Hunt, work for the EPA in Dallas, but they conducted the study on their own time in collaboration with several UT Arlington researchers.) Here’s an edited version of our interview:


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