Press Release No. 28/2012
Press Relation Officer:
Deputy Press Relation Officer:
Stephan Gabriel Haufe
Marc Rathmann, Martin Stallmann;Office: Doreen Redlich, Uwe Weber
+49 340 2103 -2122, -6625, -2067, -2250, -2507, -2669, -2637
Federal Environment Agency, P.O. box 1406, 06813 Dessau-Roßlau
Tight restrictions on hydraulic fracturingrequired
Joint press release of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and NuclearSafety and the Federal Environment Agency
New report: No drilling for natural gas in designated areastapped for drinking water
Hydraulic fracturing technology, used to extract natural gas from unconventionaldeposits, can lead to groundwater contamination. There is particular concern anduncertainty regarding the use of chemicals and the disposal of flowback, the wastewaterproduced by the process. This is the conclusion of a new report for the FederalEnvironment Ministry and the Federal Environment Agency presented in Berlin today byFederal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and President of the Federal EnvironmentAgency Jochen Flasbarth. While it does not call for a complete ban on hydraulicfracturing, the report recommends tight restrictions on the use of the technology and astep-by-step approach, citing current gaps in knowledge and environmental risks. Amongthe moves the authors advocate is a ban on hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas indesignated areas tapped for drinking water and in spa regions. Federal EnvironmentMinister Peter Altmaier welcomed the report: "The findings and recommendations of thereport significantly advance our discussion about hydraulic fracturing. The risks togroundwater are clearly identified. All concerns must be addressed before hydraulicfracturing is deployed". Jochen Flasbarth, President of the Federal Environment Agency:"I believe the proposed introduction of a mandatory environmental impact assessment isparticularly important. We cannot afford to jeopardise our drinking water supply". Bothmen are calling for a full public consultation.
Extracting natural gas from unconventional deposits, for instance coal bed methane, can involvethe use of several thousand tonnes of chemicals per square kilometre, some of which arehazardous, toxic and harmful to human health and the environment. These chemicals are used infracturing fluid to break up rocks containing natural gas. The facts currently available do notprovide sufficient basis for conclusively assessing potential risks. There is not enough reliablescientific knowledge to identify the specific impact of extracting natural gas from unconventionaldeposits in Germany, particularly regarding to the potential effects on groundwater. Aninterdisciplinary group of experts has now examined the risks of hydraulic fracturing with a focuson groundwater.