Take Part - A Stanford University scientist has found that people who live near shallowly drilled oil and natural gas wells risk drinking water contaminated with methane.
A potent greenhouse gas, methane is highly flammable. “The main risk is from chemical spills and poorly constructed wells that leak,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science at Stanford, who presented his findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C., last week. “Our research shows that most problems typically occur within half a mile.”
“In Parker County, Texas, we found homes with very high levels of methane when their water bubbled due to gas,” Jackson said. “The biggest risk from methane in water is explosions, which could happen in a basement or sheds where gas builds up. Also, a well that leaks methane could be leaking other things into the groundwater.”
The government does not classify methane dissolved in drinking water as a health hazard