YOUGNSTOWN, Ohio - Gas and oil well drilling in area shale deposits are creating jobs in the Valley.
Some want to approach the drilling boom cautiously, saying we don't know yet all of the environmental impact.
But a new Penn State University study finds that one process used in drilling does not contaminate well water.
The process, which is called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, blasts water, chemicals, and sand into the rocks thousands of feet below the surface, to help unlock the natural gas and oil.
Some landowners are worried this process could lead to contamination of their drinking water.
But the Penn State study finds that concern is unfounded. "We looked at 233 water wells before and after drilling of nearby Marcellus gas wells. And in a nutshell what we found was there was no evidence of influences from hydraulic fracturing at least on the wells that we looked at in the time frame that we looked at them," says Penn State study spokesperson Bryan Swistock.
Rhonda Reda with the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, which is funded by oil and gas producers and royalty owners, says she hopes this study puts the issue to rest once and for all. "I think it confirms the EPA study. I think Groundwater Protection Council just released theirs a few weeks ago. And report after report after report is demonstrating that fracturing the rock does not cause groundwater contamination."
But people involved with the study believe more testing is necessary. They say more wells should be studied at for longer periods of time to be absolutely certain there's no long term impact on well water.