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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina will be a testing case to help determine whether a natural gas drilling method called fracking contaminates drinking water supplies.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Thursday that Duke University and the U.S. Geological Survey will test dozens of water wells in counties with natural gas deposits before companies start drilling there.

The tests will happen at about 75 private and public wells in Lee and Chatham counties, the areas most likely to be explored if natural gas drilling is permitted in the state.

The testing could detect drinking water contamination from drilling and energy exploration.

The natural gas industry denies that fracking harms drinking water. A Duke University study this year concluded that water methane levels correspond to the nearness of drilling sites.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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