What is Fracking?
High-volume high pressure slick water fracturing with horizontal drilling or “fracking” is the process of extracting natural gas or methane from shale and sandstone deposits found in rock formations laid down millions of years ago. Slick water or slurry refers to the chemical formula composed of water, sand and toxic chemicals injected at high pressure down the bore hole and through the horizontal cement casings to crack open the fractures in the shale and keep the fractures open to extract the natural gas.
In fracking, miles of pipes set in concrete casings are placed under the earth, first vertically down the bore hole, than in a horizontal direction extending for miles from the original well head. Thousands of explosives are set along the horizontal cement casings to create fractures in the rock formations. Cracks in the rock create veins that carry trapped gas along the horizontal pipes back up to the well. Fracking was first used in the 1940′s. It is only in the last five years that the new experimental combination is being used of high-volume drilling under high pressure with known carcinogens and toxic chemicals.
Dangers of Methane Leakage & Chemicals Contaminating Aquifers
The industry reports that 6.2 percent of wells leak upon installation by faulty cement casings that crack under the pressure of fracking. Leaks allow toxic chemicals in the slurry solution and radioactive elements released from the earth during drilling to flow upward where it can contaminate aquifers and ground water above. The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) reports cases of thermogenic methane, the methane that resides at thousands of feet beneath the ground, having migrated to water wells at the earth’s surface.
Millions of Gallons of Fresh Water Poisoned Per Fracked Well
The slurry solution uses between five and nine million gallons of fresh water per well that becomes so poisoned that it can no longer be considered water after it has been used for fracking. This “produced water” is too toxic for agriculture or any other purpose and is permanently lost to the hydrologic cycle. The industry does not clean the water after they have contaminated our public water and operators do not have a safe solution for safely disposing of “flow-back water” after the fracking process. In the documentary Gasland, people living near fracked wells could not drink the water from their own wells. The oil & gas industry supplies bottled water to homeowners as a damage compensation for contaminating their water supply.
Health Risks from Toxic Chemicals
Increasing reports of accidents and spills are coming to the surface, including methane escaping at compressor stations and leaks various points along the production and delivery system. A 2012 study by NOAA found a 6 percent rate of methane leak into the atmosphere from oil and gas drilling. Accidents, spills and radioactive contamination exposes both workers and citizens to toxins and carcinogenic compounds for which the human body has zero tolerance. Numerous studies are now being published showing the enormous environmental damage and health risks of fracking, including this public health study. Endocrine researcher Dr. Theo Colborn has identified more than 600 toxic chemicals used in fracking solutions which damage the immune, respiratory, reproductive and neurological systems, and 25 percent of the chemicals she tested in a year-long air quality study were known carcinogens.