Hydrofracking – The Darker Side

impacts on the environment

Hydrofracking is a well drilling method using a high-pressure liquid injected into fractures in the rock formation to reach the fissures, allowing natural gas or oil to flow freely. It involves the injection of a liquid or a mixture of liquid into a large number of fractures in rocks, which are thousands of feet deep. Because the fluid or gas comes from an underground reservoir, it is called a fluid’s injection. The technique was originally used to fracture the limestone and bedrock formation of the Grand Canyon, but has since been used in other locations including the United States, Russia, Australia, Norway, Canada, Italy, and Spain. Hydrofracking is now widely used worldwide, despite its many critics who question its impacts on the environment and the potential for large-scale groundwater contamination.

Environmental impacts of hydrofracking can range from minimal to serious. The most important issue is that hydrofracking may contaminate the area where the drilling takes place. The contamination can occur in the compressor phase, where wastewater is injected into the wells, or in the production area, where natural gas and oil are recovered. While natural gas and oil are rarely contaminated during hydrofracking, wastewater is contaminated after the treatment phase. The resulting contamination can range from small amounts of naturally occurring substances to thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and radioactive materials.

moratorium bill

Concerns about the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing have prompted several bills to be introduced in Congress to protect natural resources and the environment. One bill, HR 1215, the “moratorium bill”, would prohibit all federal approval for hydraulic fracturing in domestic energy projects. Another, S. Rept. 11th Cong. would require that the Interior Secretary to submit a report explaining the reasons for granting a license to a gas or oil company to explore for and develop gas and oil in the United States without a federal permit.

Scientists have also raised concerns about the impact of hydrofracking on drinking water. Dr. James Combs, a geologist with the U.S. Department of Energy, stated in an interview with the Associated Press that while no studies have been done on the impact of hydrofracking on drinking water, “we do know it causes contamination.” According to Combs, the risk of contamination includes, “alkaline water, which can corrode metal pipes and other plumbing; acid water, which can change the pH of underground water supplies; and saline water, which can cause damage to water pipes and natural-stone drainage systems.” According to the Texas Railroad Commission, a study by the Texas Railroad Commission found benzene and other chemicals in local groundwater supplies. Benzene can cause irritation to the eyes and skin, can be carcinogenic, and can aggravate respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

highly susceptible to damage from hydrofracking

Environmentalists have also expressed concerns about the negative impact hydrofracking can have on natural habitats. Drilling into the earth for natural gas extraction causes significant pollution and the drilling itself can contaminate the aquifer that is beneath the surface. The natural environment is highly susceptible to damage from hydrofracking because it poses a number of hazards to the environment and to people. According to the Austin American-Scenes, one drilling site contained four pounds of waste material and was contaminated with natural gases, carcinogens, salt and other chemicals.

The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing has prompted several rules and regulations regarding the injection of toxic substances. The federal government has enacted the Safe Drinking Water Act, which specifically requires that operators test for the presence of naturally occurring contaminants and perform regular inspections. The Railroad Commission also prohibits the use of various chemicals in hydraulic fracturing. According to the AP, the EPA is currently reviewing two papers on the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, including one on the use of chemicals in hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracture occurs when natural gas or other liquids are injected into the earth in order to increase the flow of the natural gas or oil.

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