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Open Access Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 9(5)

Environmental issues associated with coal seam gas recovery: managing the fracking boom

Graeme E. Batley A C and Rai S. Kookana B

A Centre for Environmental Contaminants Research, CSIRO Land and Water, Locked Bag 2007 Kirrawee NSW 2232, Australia.
B Centre for Environmental Contaminants Research, CSIRO Land and Water, Private Bag 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: graeme.batley@csiro.au

Environmental Chemistry 9(5) 425-428 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EN12136
Submitted: 10 September 2012  Accepted: 14 October 2012   Published: 12 November 2012

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Environmental context. Coal seam gas reserves are likely to make a major contribution to future energy needs. However, the new technology for exploiting these reserves, termed hydraulic fracturing, raises several environmental issues. We discuss the research required to assess the ecological risks from gas recovery.

Abstract. Coal seam gas reserves represent a major contribution to energy needs, however, gas recovery by hydraulic fracturing (fracking or fraccing), requires management to minimise any environmental effects. Although the industry is adapting where possible to more benign fracking chemicals, there is still a lack of information on exposure to natural and added chemicals, and their fate and ecotoxicity in both the discharged produced and flow-back waters. Geogenic contaminants mobilised from the coal seams during fracking may add to the mixture of chemicals with the potential to affect both ground and surface water quality. The research needs to better assess the ecological risks from gas recovery are discussed.


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