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Fracking wastewater spills may put Colorado's water supplies at risk

September 23, 2013
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<photocredit>Jim Parkin/Hemera/Thinkstock</photocredit>

While communities in north-central Colorado are still trying to come to terms with the devastation after the massive floods caused by heavy rain over the past week, another cause for concern has emerged.

Extraction of natural gas and oil through fracking has increased in the state of Colorado over the past few years. But while this fact has had a positive effect on the state's economy, it may now be a threat. Reports of spills from oil and gas fracking wells have added to the already serious situation, putting the environment at risk. Environmental organizations claim that fracking wastewater leaking from storage tanks after the flood may be dangerous and may harm water supplies, Reuters reported.

According to Tony Ingraffea, professor of engineering at Cornell University, currently it is impossible to know how much of the chemical-laced wastewater has spilled but the fracking fluids may pose a serious long-term problem that requires large-scale cleanup efforts.

RELATED: Chemical engineers develop improved recycling system for fracking wastewater

Rescue teams flying over Weld County, one of the areas where flooding has caused the most damage, reported that storage tanks at fracking sites were scattered and toppled. Some of the 20,000 active wells were entirely under water. The state's Oil and Gas Association explained that almost 2,000 wells have been closed in the area, Reuters added.

Driller Encana Corp confirmed that some of its wastewater storage tanks had been dislodged and there had been a leak of oil from one of the wells but the company's spokesman told the news source that the spill had been contained on site.

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