Posts Tagged ‘Drinking Water’

New reports on the hazards of fracking

February 25, 2015

fracking-infographic-1024x767Source: Daily Kos.

I’ve long been aware that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is associated with earthquakes, but I had thought the main reason was the settling of the geological strata after the fracking process is complete and the fracking fluid is pumped out.

But according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey, the main cause of fracking-induced earthquakes is the injection of the huge amounts of contaminated waste water into deep geological strata.

Large areas of the United States that used to experience few or no earthquakes have, in recent years, experienced a remarkable increase in earthquake activity that has caused considerable public concern as well as damage to structures. This rise in seismic activity, especially in the central United States, is not the result of natural processes.

Instead, the increased seismicity is due to fluid injection associated with new technologies that enable the extraction of oil and gas from previously unproductive reservoirs.  These modern extraction techniques result in large quantities of wastewater produced along with the oil and gas. The disposal of this wastewater by deep injection occasionally results in earthquakes that are large enough to be felt, and sometimes damaging. Deep injection of wastewater is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes and the corresponding increase in seismic hazard in the central U.S.

via USGS Release.

Meanwhile in California the Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit conservation organization, has found deep underground storage of oil fracking waste water has allowed toxic and cancer-causing chemicals to contaminate aquifers, underground reservoirs that can be a source of irrigation and drinking water.

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Hydrofracking for me, but not for thee

March 18, 2013
hemlock canadice,jpg

Click to enlarge.

My friend Hal Bauer, a long-time and committed environmental activist and organic farmer, e-mailed me this graphic.  As a resident of the city of Rochester, N.Y., I get my drinking water from the pristine Hemlock and Canadice lakes 28 miles to my south—unlike my suburban neighbors, who drink mostly treated water from Lake Ontario supplied by the Monroe County Water Authority.

Hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas is a process that involves fracturing deep underground strata of shale with explosives, and forcing out the trapped oil and gas by means of a high-pressure mixture of water and detergent chemicals.   The chemicals as well as some of the toxic underground metals could be dangerous if they got into the water table, and the DEC takes that danger seriously enough to protect the watersheds of the New York City and Syracuse water supplies.  Why, then, do I not deserve the same protection?

The DEC leases public lands to oil and gas drillers.   Historically the DEC has charged significantly less than the drillers pay private land-owners.  I bet this is still true, although I don’t know it for a fact.

Click on Leasing of Natural Gas Drilling Rights on Public and Private Land in New York for a 2003 study by Katherine E. Ziegenfuss and Duane Chapman of Cornell University.  That was before the current boom in hydrofracking, so my guess is that the disparity is even greater now.

Click on Hydrofracking and carbon caps for a post of mine with good links explaining the hydrofracking process and the hydrofracking controversy in New York state.