By Chris Mooney
- The basic technique of "hydraulic fracturing" has been used in conventional-style wells since the late 1940s
- The U.S. is estimated to have 827 trillion cubic feet of this "unconventional" shale gas within reach-enough to last for decades-although industry e-mails published by the New York Times in June suggest the resource may be more difficult and expensive to extract than companies have been claiming
- Huge ponds or tanks are also needed to store the chemically laden "flowback water" that comes back up the hole after wells have been fractured
- Fracking may be powerful, but it's not that powerful-not enough to blow open new fissures through that much rock, connecting horizontal well bores (called "laterals") to groundwater near the surface
- To maximize access to the gas, however, companies may drill a dozen or more vertical wells, closely spaced, at a single site. They may frack the lateral for each well multiple segments and perhaps multiple times
- The actions essentially replace a previous statewide ban on fracking, despite the fact that the EPA is only midway through a major safety study due in preliminary form in late 2012
- The push to drill in New York before the EPA's results are ready is forcing experts to try to determine which charges against fracking hold some weight and which need new research to address. The answers to this deeply confused issue ultimately depend on competing definitions of "fracking"
- If fracking is taken to refer to the entire process of unconventional gas drilling from start to finish, it is already guilty of some serious infractions
- It is laden not only with a cocktail of chemicals-used to help the fracking fluid flow, to protect the pipe and kill bacteria, and many other purposes-but often with radioactive materials and salts from the underground layers. This toxic water must be stored on-site and later transported to treatment plants or reused. Most companies use open-air pits dug into the ground
- The EPA ordered the company to provide clean water to the injured parties, to determine if any other nearby wells were contaminated, and to take other steps
- Faulty cementing is the leading suspect in possible sources of contamination, and by industry's definition it is not part of fracking
- Cementing is the obvious "weak link," according to Anthony Gorody, a hydrogeologist and consultant to gas companies who has been a defender of fracking
- Contamination because of bad cementing has been a long-standing problem in traditional vertical wells, which were fracked at times, too
- Still, if hydraulic fractures could connect with preexisting fissures or old wells, the chemicals could pose a groundwater risk. Fracking "out of zone" can happen.
- Implicating or absolving fracking, no matter how it is defined, will require more data
- In the meantime, Gorody and Jackson agree that the EPA should monitor chemistry in drinking water wells before and after drilling begins at new sites
- Study by the EPA and others may bring clarity to complex, conflicting claims
- Residents opposed to fracking in New York, Pennsylvania and other states display a common lawn sign: the word "FRACK" in white letters against a black background, with a red circle and line through the word
Hydraulic Fracturing has been used in conventional-style wells sine the late 1940s and has revealed to contain problems with them. The U.S. was estimated to have 827 trillion cubic feet of this "unconventional" shale gas within reach-enough to last for decades. Fracking is seen to be very powerful but it is not enough to blow open new fissures through that much much rock, it is connecting horizontal well bores (called "laterals") to groundwater near the surface. This comes off as a bit as intense as companies may have to drill a dozen or more vertical walls and may frack the lateral for each well multiple segments and perhaps multiple times just to maximize access to the gas. However the actions performed go against and replace a previous statewide ban on fracking, despite the fact that the EPA is only midway through a major safety study. The EPA ordered the company to provide clean water to the injured parties, to determine if any other nearby wells were contaminated. Another thing that is a lead suspect in a possible source for contamination is Faulty Cementing and by the industry's definition is not part of. Contamination because of bad cementing has been a long-standing problem in traditional vertical walls, which were fracked at times.
In my opinion I think that the whole idea of "Fracking" is very scary as a majority of us do not know what it is truly capable of or what it even is. After reading about it, I find it very concerning to learn about as it is able to leave risk to one of our sources for living which is drinking-water supplies with its ability to release natural gas. The issue of Fracking polluting our drinking water has plenty of evidence to show why this is a very a serious deal and has many things able to lead to it such as Faulty Cementing. Although there is much debate going back and forth with Fracking, I still can't get it out of my mind that this is able to create such a heap of trouble in the long run with it being able to cause flammable kitchen faucets. I still believe that this needs to be looked at as it still is of a problem.