MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service is funding a research project at West Virginia University to compare methane levels in well water before and after hydraulic fracturing.
Fracking is the process natural gas drillers use to break open rock and release natural gas deposits underground.
A $27,500 grant will help a forest hydrologist and a geochemist try to pinpoint methane sources and a radium isotope that degrades into radon gas.
They'll study water from six wells in the Monongahela National Forest to establish a pre-drilling baseline then re-test after wells are drilled.
The scientists say high concentrations of methane can be found where no fracking has been done.
They've also studied samples from 40 wells in the Monongahela River watershed where no drilling was done and found varying levels of methane.