Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Pennsylvania Environmental Lawyer explains risks associated with methane migration

Hydraulic fracturing drilling in Pennsylvania (often called "fracking" or "hydraulic fracking") has been linked to a wide range of environmental problems - air pollution, water shortages, even explosions. But perhaps the biggest environmental hazard caused by this form of drilling is methane migration.

Methane migration occurs when methane seeps into the water. In the case of fracking, methane migration is often a direct result gas companies' negligent drilling practices. Many drilling companies often try to deny responsibility for methane migration, noting that underground pockets of methane naturally migrate to the surface. However, that process normally takes hundreds or even thousands of years. Hydraulic fracking drilling - in which fluid pumped underground frees trapped natural gas - often accelerates that process. That's because hydraulic fracking creates a path for the methane to easily escape from underground.

"Previous research has demonstrated that proximity to unconventional gas development is associated with elevated concentrations of methane in groundwater aquifers in Pennsylvania," according to a recent study about methane gas leaking into water wells in Pennsylvania. The study was conducted by team led by Cornell environmental engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea. The study added that, "The NE region of Pennsylvania, in particular, has experienced several widely publicized methane migration cases related to loss of structural integrity of wells."

A similar study was conducted by Duke University and came to the same conclusion: hydraulic fracturing for natural gas elevated methane levels in private water supplies across Northeastern Pennsylvania. An article about the study was published several news organizations, including Environmental Working Group's website.

Several recent articles have been written about such studies and ongoing concerns about fracking causing methane contamination of drinking water in Pennsylvania, especially where the Marcellus Shale oil and gas reserve is located underground. State Impact, a reporting project by National Public Radio, had an article recently about the topic titled, "Tap Water Torches: How Faulty Gas Drilling Can Lead To Methane Migration." So did the website Climate Central in an article titled, "Fracked Oil, Gas Well Defects Leading to Methane Leaks."

And last year, The Washington Post reported that drilling for natural gas has "caused 'significant damage' to drinking-water aquifers" in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The news article was based on a document released by an employee of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about methane leaking into domestic water wells in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Similar concerns have been frequently raised about contaminated water wells in Bradford County, PA and throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, as noted in the Duke and Cornell studies.

Dramatic reports of methane migration in the water supply have become famous across the country, particularly since many of these articles feature videos of water catching on fire due to high levels of methane gas in the water.

Our attorneys at O'Malley & Langan Law Offices are well aware of the environmental problems associated with fracking and methane migration. That's because our experienced Pennsylvania fracking attorneys have successfully handled numerous cases and attorney Todd J. O'Malley serves as one of co-chairs of the Gas Drilling/Fracking Litigation Group.

The legal team at O'Malley & Langan has extensive experience successfully handling cases involving oil and gas development, water contamination, nuisance, and lease cases to verdict. Attorney Todd J. O'Malley has been invited to speak throughout the country about this topic.

If you believe your drinking water has been contaminated due to methane migration or other consequences of hydraulic fracking in Pennsylvania, contact us today. Call (800) 817-2667 or schedule a free case consultation online.

With offices in Towanda, Scranton, and Pittston, O'Malley & Langan Law Offices handle cases throughout Pennsylvania, including the counties of Lackawanna, Luzerne, Bradford, Schuylkill, Lehigh, Monroe, Wyoming and Wayne.

Office Locations



201 Franklin Avenue

Scranton, PA 18503

p. 570-344-2667



9 North Main Street

Pittston, PA 18640

p. 570-883-1321



213 Main Street

Towanda, PA 18848

p. 570-265-5800