Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a technique used to crack rock underground, usually for the purpose of extracting oil or gas. It involves injecting a fluid down a well under massive pressure, in order to force open cracks in the targeted rock.
Conventional hydraulic fracturing has been used since the 1950s to create small cracks spreading only a few feet around well-bores, by injection of between 50,000 and 200,000 gallons of nitrogen foam or gel. This is to speed up the flow where the oil or gas bottlenecks as it enters the well-bore and it usually will not have effects beyond that.
However, recently “massive slickwater hydraulic fracturing” has been used to extract gas from within impermeable rock formations, such as shale. Unlike conventional hydraulic extraction, unconventional hydraulic extraction requires large numbers of wells which each drain a small area (40-80 acres). This involves the use of around 5 to 7 million gallons of slickwater (a mixture of water, sand and chemicals) to fracture the rock in up 40 stages along a mile or more long horizontal, creating fractures hundreds of feet from the wellbore and similar parallel horizontals are usually situated to drain adjacent areas.
Why should we worry about fracking?
For the local people affected, “fracking” has come to mean a load of companies turning up where they live and coating the area in hundreds or thousands of well pads, compressor stations and pipelines, with a huge variety of extremely negative consequences.
Focused as they are on getting gas and oil out of the ground at any cost, the industry and government are concerned with the technologies which can be used to do so. They work on a drilling site by drilling site basis, and the cumulative impact of the whole process is not something that concerns them. It is also useful in their public relations to focus on small details rather than the big picture – a very different focus reflecting the different concerns of those involved.
Fracking has numerous diverse and severe impacts, which includes but is not limited to (links to external websites)Water Contamination, Air Pollution, Radioactive Contamination, Human Health, Agriculture & Animal Health, Wildlife, Methane Migration, Climate Change, Fracking Waste, Water Usage, Earthquakes, Transport, Pipelines, Blowouts, Spills & Explosions, Frack Sand, Leaking Wells, Orphaned Wells, Industrialisation, Secrecy, Oppression, Corruption, and Bubble Economics.
Below are just three videos that try to improve the information available around the risks and impacts of fracking.
In particular, the first film from Australia shows what people live with when fracking occurs. After raising awareness through campaigns, fracking (Hydraulic fracturing) has now been banned in parts of Australia, as well as in parts of the U.S.A. because of the effects on the community and environment.
With thanks to Sheffield Against Fracking, Frack-Off.org and Frack-Free South Yorkshire for the information.