A new study has revealed significant contamination of soil and water in North Dakota from radioactive materials, heavy metals and corrosive salts as a result of oil and gas wastewater spills.
The Duke University research, published in Environmental Science and Technology, highlights the possible health implications for humans and wildlife from the 3,900 reported brine spills in the region since the rise of fracking in 2007.
Some 9,700 wells have been drilled in North Dakota's Bakken shale and Bottineu oilfield region in the last 10 years,Truthout reports.
“Unlike other areas in the U.S. where decades of conventional oil and gas exploration have generated a legacy of contamination, the exploration rates of conventional oil and gas in North Dakota were significantly lower than recent unconventional operations,” the Duke study says.
“Therefore, recent OGW [oil and gas wastewater] spills are directly associated with recent unconventional oil extraction.”