The international NGO Greenpeace has recently published a report about the newly began Fracking activities, this report is called “Fractura hidráulica para extraer gas natural (fracking)” and it explains, through various questions, the methods, reasons as well as consequences of the Fracking. I did not know much about it so I decided to start a searching mission around it. That is when I found another interesting and meaningful information resource, this second web page was called http://www.dangersoffracking.com and offered me a graphic travel through the natural gas extraction we were talking about; it is the Fracking.
As Greenpeace’s report reflects, the Fracking is a new technique to extract natural gas from the deepest side of the Earth, but how does it work? It seems a simple process. However, its complexity is more serious than most people think.
This report explains how Fracking is based on a pressured stream formed by million litres of water and a compost of different chemicals. It happens with certain sedimentary rocks that their special characteristics of impermeability and inside structure and materials allow the methane accumulation.
Greenpeace’s experts have showed, when areas formed by this kind of rocks are discovered, a process of well building starts. Enormous amounts of huge wells are constructed and lots of lorries are moved to transport the water to the chosen place. The water is injected, encouraged by pressure streams, into the crevices of the rocks. This water has previously been mixed up with a chemical cocktail whose components have not even be identified. What we only know for sure is that, according to the Greenpeace experts´ report: “It is known that there are, at least, 260 chemical substances in the 197 different products used during the process and many of them are toxic”.
It is a new technique that has been popularized in the United States of America although its short period of use since it started. However this report also reflects that, just as every new technique, the Fracking has its advantages and disadvantages.
As the commercial sector has said, we are being witnesses of a revolutionary way of extracting natural gas but, do we know about the consequences?
First of all, lack of drinkable water is a real problem in hundreds of countries all over the world and this new method needs between 9.000 and 29.000m3 of water for each single well. Apart from that we must include the enormous amount of lorries that have to be moved to transport all this water to the determined place, 4.300 to 6.600 lorry-travels for each well-platform.
On the other hand, we have the chemical mixture. It is a secret composition and many of these chemicals are out of regulation in Unite States, because they have little information about them. We do not know much about them so, why bother? Well, we do not know about the cocktail and about the consequences of injecting it inside the rock which could be really dangerous but what we already know is that many of the chemicals used in the process are both, toxic and carcinogenic. This means that the simple contact with an underground aquifer could pollute a whole source of drinkable water.
This activity is getting extended in an incredibly velocity. As Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge said: “The more natural gas the United States extracts from shale rock, the safer the country will be.” As I said, we do not really know the real consequences of this method, and it would be saver if people decided to make some more experiments and analysis about it before being too late, because this problem, unlike others, is about an invisible threat.
Detrow, Scott. (September 7, 2011). Ridge: Shale Drilling makes America Safe. StateImpact. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2011/09/07/ridge-shale-drilling-makes-america-safe/
FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act). 2013. What goes in and out of Hydraulic Fracturing. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.dangersoffracking.com/
Greenpeace. 2013. Fractura hidráulica para extraer gas natural (fracking). Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.greenpeace.org/espana/Global/espana/report/cambio_climatico/Fracking-GP_ESP.pdf