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Study: No Link Between Fracking & Contamination

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - A University of Texas study says there's no direct link between groundwater contamination and a controversial process to extract oil and gas known as fracking.

UT's Energy Institute says contamination can occur due to spills above ground or mishandling of wastewater. But the institute argues that those problems are not caused directly by fracking.

Fracking involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to open fissures and improve the flow of oil and gas to the surface. It's used to improve productivity in gas reserves all over the U.S., including the Barnett Shale in North Texas.

For years environmentalists have decried the millions of gallons used each time natural gas-containing shale rock deep inside the earth is split open with it. This is exacerbated, they say, as water becomes more of a commodity during what has been the worst drought in Texas history.

Residents and housing associations near drilling sites point to chemical additives in the treated water as the reason why some families can set their tap water aflame.

Meanwhile, experts tout the process of fracking as a relatively cheap, safe way to harvest natural gas that powers homes across the nation.

An Energy Institute spokesman says no industry funds paid for the project. Fracking opponents say the study needs to be reviewed.

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(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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