Essay about Water and Hydraulic Fracturing

Submitted By jrez3
Words: 1021
Pages: 5

Hydraulic Fracturing Who wouldn’t want cheaper gasoline or cheaper oil to heat their houses? The opportunity for cheaper fuel is definitely an option but at what cost to our health and to the environment. The process for getting this cheaper fuel is called “Hydraulic Fracturing” or “Fracking”. There are two main views, one it provides fuel at a cheaper cost and the second opinion is that it is harmful to the environment and we shouldn’t continue fracking. The United States should continue to harvest shale gas, but should take further actions to regulate how it is retrieved, to ensure that the process is safe for the environment, and to the people that live around the wells. In order to understand the different sides against and for fracking we must first examine the process used to mine for shale gas. Fracking is the process of using water and other chemicals to retrieve shale gas from the earth’s interior. The process starts with a hole being drilled thousands of feet down into the earth surface, followed by horizontal drilling through the shale (Challener). The horizontal drilling is where the fracking takes place; millions of liters of water mixed with sand and various chemicals are pumped into the shale under extreme pressure causing the rock to fracture leaving the gas well open, releasing that gas and oil once the water/chemical solution has been removed (Challener). As you can imagine when you start introducing non-organic chemicals to the environment there are going to be people and organizations that don’t agree with the process. One of the biggest concerns that has comes from the process of hydraulic fracturing is its effect on natural groundwater. A study was conducted by health scientist, Heather Avens and her colleagues on the effects on surface spills in the fracking industry from July 1, 2010 through July 2, 2011(New). In their research they studied data provided to them from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and addressed potential contamination from benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene or BTEX (New). After their research was finished they found that only 77 surface spills affected groundwater in Weld County (which has over 18,000 active wells)(New). During these spills an average of seven 55 gallon drums were spilled and had a contamination zone on average of 197 cubic meters at approximately 2 meters in depth. Overall, fracking sounds pretty safe, out of 18,000 active wells, there were only 77 surface spill accidents, which totals about 0.4% of the active wells and not to mention that almost all of the spills were due to equipment malfunction and not human error. While some would argue that fracking is pretty safe from the numbers provided by Avers’ study, other groups have something else to say about fracking’s safe practices. Activist say fracking causes dangerous health concerns to the people who live near these fracking operations. In article called “How to Fight Fracking” by Jean Louis Deveau, he claims that it takes enough water and chemicals to fill seven Olympic size swimming pools to frack one gas well (Deveau). Deveau also states that after the pressure has been released that two-thirds of the water/chemical mix stays down in the well and that the one-third that returns to the surface is toxic, untreatable water (Deveau). Deveau also goes on say that this one-third toxic untreatable water that returns to the surface has caused over 1,000 allegations in the US of ground or surface water contamination either above or below ground (Deveau). Not only does the escaped toxic, non-treatable water affect the groundwater but Deveau quotes Theo Colburn, an American endocrinologist, saying that 75% of the chemicals used in fracking disrupt sensory organs and respiratory gastrointestinal system. Activist are mostly concerned with the problems to the environment and the health of people who live around these wells, but Deveau does go on to state