The Foulness of Fracking
Imagine waking up in the middle of the night and wanting a glass of water, you go to the tap and instead of fresh clean water you get yellow, cloudy, oily water that smells of chemicals. Would you drink it? Those that live near natural gas hydro-fractured wells have had to ask themselves that question. Hydraulic fracturing or fracking, as it’s commonly called, is a process of extracting natural gas from deep within the earth’s surface by drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and forces open fissures that allow natural gas to flow more freely out of the well [ (Fox) ]. As with any kind of drilling, whether it is for natural gas or oil, there are risks of contamination. Are we willing to take the risk before we fully understand the consequences? Hydro Fracturing is polluting our water ways, country sides and the air we breathe; the government must take a stand, pass legislation to make sure our environment is protected.
Water, one of our most precious resources, is being destroyed. In the process of fracking, each well uses 2-8 million gallons of fresh water during the first tapping of the well and 1-7 million gallons of fresh water during subsequent drillings (Steingraber 271). The fresh water is then mixed with about 10,000 – 40,000 gallons of chemicals. Chemicals, such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, arsenic and xylene, contaminate the water and make it highly toxic to humans, animals and wildlife (Fox). Dr. Theo Colburn, a well respected, award winning Professor at the University of Florida and President of TEDX (The Endocrine Disruption Exchange) did some research and found 596 chemicals in the fracking fluids (Fox). However, as of now, gas companies do not have to disclose the chemicals used. These chemicals are seeping out of fracturing encasements and polluting precious water ways and drinking wells. “In Pennsylvania, in less than three years of fracking, 1,500 environmental violations have occurred, including one that involved an exploded well that blasted a fire hydrant stream of poisonous frack fluid for sixteen hours” (Steingraber 274). The poisonous fluids then went into nearby creeks and streams, directly impacting the environment and the health of those living in the area. After the well is drilled, the contaminated fluids recovered from the fracking process, called frack water or produced water, are dumped into a pit. The pit holds the poisonous water until it can be pumped into a truck and disposed of. During my researched, I was unable to uncover where the produced water is dumped. Before the water is taken away, a pump is placed in the middle of the pit and the water is sprayed into the air, this helps it to evaporate so there is less to haul away. This may seem obviously crazy to most because essentially the gas company is not only polluting the ground water but the air as well. Gas companies are also exempt from the Clean Air Act (Fox) so they are allowed to continue this practice. All the water used for drilling and the produced water is making our fresh water supplies disappear. Parents always complain when kids leave water running in the sink while they brush their teeth, however, that water will go back into the environment safely and be used again in the natural water cycle. It will go into the ground water, evaporate and return in the form of rain. Water used in the fracking process is different. Millions of gallons are removed from lakes, streams, or groundwater aquifers and are forced into the ground below the water table. Once the water is that deep into the earth, it is removed from the water cycle and becomes a true waste of water (Steingraber 274). Water is so important for our survival. It’s hard to imagine that companies and the government would be so careless with such an important resource.
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