Cape Town - A collaboration of researchers is pre-empting the possible environmental impact of fracking by conducting tests on Karoo water sources before the blasting begins.

Stellenbosch University’s Central Analytical Facilities will analyse the water quality at sites across the region, funded by the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa).

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves pumping high-pressure liquid into shale rock to crack it and release the natural gas within.

A report by the Water Research Commission has warned of the dangers of cancer-causing chemicals used in the process.

“We want to get ahead of this problem by doing the baseline studies now,” said Cansa head of research Dr Carl Albrecht. The team hopes to start testing by January. - The Star