Definition of Fracking
Fracking is the process of tapping natural gas by pumping water, chemical, and sand deep underground to develop some cracks in the shale formations. This is a better energy resource but it comes with adverse environmental impacts across the communities. Many people especially in America find themselves near pipelines or natural gas wells, and this is sufficient proof of how contaminated their environment is and also the communities are vulnerable to certain health risks. This is because petrochemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and Sulfuric acid, lead, and formaldehyde are used.
Effects on the Environment
Fracking Induced Water Pollution
The drinking water supplies are at risk because fracking can cause leakages and spillage of chemicals during transit and storage. The groundwater can also be polluted when the fracking fluid seeps through the rocks during drilling since the force used can easily cause fractures on the aquifer. Sediment can also be produced when constructing and running the oil and gas wells. The sediments will then find their way to the water sources when it rains, and this will cause massive pollution that will kill the ecosystem there. Water pollution does not stop even the natural gas is produced because the fluids that remain on top have radioactive materials, and when they find their way to the open pits, they affect the general environment. VOCs like formaldehyde and benzene are carcinogenic, and the Hydrogen Sulphide can irritate the eyes. Throat and nose, and to extreme cases, it can lead to death. The amount of water needed during fracking varies depending on the situation, and so one can be 10 million gallons, and another one will demand about 20 million gallons.
Fracking’s Contribution to Climate Change
Massive gas production is the leading cause of the greenhouse effect, a major contributor to climate change. During fracking, a lot of natural gas is burnt to release carbon dioxide plus other fossil fuels. Natural gas is mainly composed of methane that is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet, and the impact spreads out all over, not only at the drilling sites. Fracking stimulates carbon’s warming effects and pollution because it does not allow the requesting process to take place. The underlying shale formations are presumed to be the storage of carbon dioxide, but they fracture to release the gas to the environment adding to climate change.
Fracking causes Air Pollution
In search of natural gas, drilling and other activities emit a lot of air pollutants like the VOCs are listed under the Clean Air Act because they can damage the respiratory and the nervous system. Therefore, people are advised to live far from those sites because benzene, toluene, and ethylbenzene are the major components. Various nitrogen oxides react with the sunlight to form smog. The sulfur oxides are also risky because they are irritating to the noses and eyes.
Fracking causes Earthquakes
In many states, fracking waste disposal has caused earthquakes of different magnitude. This occurs because of the cracks on the shale formations once the natural gas is withdrawn. After the gas is removed, the brine for fracking or wastewater is added into these cracks to fill the space under immense pressure that affects the fault lines. A 5.7 magnitude earthquake that struck Oklahoma in 2011, was the largest in the world, and the reason was the immense pressure beneath.
For this reason, proper handling of brine for fracking is necessary. Ethical companies are transparent about their handling of brine for fracking purposes. It is important to inform the audience about rigorous procedures concerning companies take to ensure proper handling of brine.