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Fracking: Techniques and experiences, risks and hazards

Fracking or hydraulic fracturing means pumping thousands of gallons of water, mixed with tons of toxic chemicals and sand, deep underground under extreme pressure to crack oil or gas bearing rock in order to set free those fossil fuel resources.

The notion of producing even more climate-toxic fossil fuels, especially with such a high-risk method like fracking, is rejected by many people worldwide. They demand the implementation of the necessary climate change targets and therefore stress the need for a quick exit from an economy based on fossil fuels and a fast development of renewable energy forms, backed by an improvement in energy efficiency.

Nevertheless, the global oil and gas industry and some governments somehow still hold on to the fossil fuel economy model, never minding the imminent climate change, the proven risks and hazards of fracking for water resources and health, the unresolved problems of getting rid of the industrial waste in an environmentally suitable fashion and the social and ecologic conflicts involved.

Learn more about fracking, fossil fuel geology, and technical developments: Fracking explained

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Frack trucks on town road emitting particulate matter.

Does increased traffic flow around unconventional resource development activities represent the major respiratory hazard to neighboring communities?: knowns and unknowns

Abstract PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The objective of this review is to demonstrate that the focus on air emissions causing respiratory effects and associated with gas development may be misplaced by attributing those exposures mainly to well pad activities. RECENT FINDINGS: The most recent publications on the health effects of hydraulic fracturing operations seem to parallel …

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Drilling and fracking poses significant health risks

Speakers corner. To frack or not to frack?

To frack or not to frack? Why is that not a global public health question and how should public health practitioners address it? There is a powerful and pressing argument now for public health practitioners to follow Virchow and to start to move beyond repeatedly pointing out the many problems of fracking. Their next prudent …

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A stream in North Dakota contaminated by an accidental spill. (Photo by Avner Vengosh)

Unconventional Oil and Gas Spills: Risks, Mitigation Priorities, and State Reporting Requirements

This study shows that available data prove between 2 and 16 percent of fracked wells have reported spills each year, with North Dakota reporting the most. Abstract: Rapid growth in unconventional oil and gas (UOG) has produced jobs, revenue, and energy, but also concerns over spills and environmental risks. We assessed spill data from 2005 …

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Child on a swing with fracking site in the background

Childhood hematologic cancer and residential proximity to oil and gas development

Oil and gas development emits known hematological carcinogens, such as benzene, and increasingly occurs in residential areas. This study found, among others, that young persons (0–24 years old) in Colorado with ALL (Acute Lymphatic Leukemia) were most likely to live close to oil and gas wells. Abstract Background Oil and gas development emits known hematological …

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title photo FOE report »how fracking supports the plastic industry«


The plastics industry has reaped under-the-radar benefits from the environmentally destructive fracking boom. The fossil fuel industry has surged over the past decade by employing new techniques and technologies that combine horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) to extract oil and gas from shale and other underground rock formations. Fracking injects large quantities of …

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A seismogram


Seismic events that occurred in western Lawrence County on April 25, 2016, were likely correlated to natural gas hydraulic fracturing by Hilcorp Energy Company, according to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Bibliography: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) REVIEW OF SEISMIC EVENTS IN LAWRENCE COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA JANUARY 2017 Jan. 19, …

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Quotation from EPA: »EPA found scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources.«

EPA: Hydraulic Fracturing Study – Final Assessment 2016

And this is one of the reasons why Donald Trump doesn’t like the EPA so much: EPA released the final report, “Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources”. Press release: WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing its scientific report on the …

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A groundwater monitoring well.

Predicting Water Resource Impacts of Unconventional Gas Using Simple Analytical Equations

In this study the authors show “that the recovery of pressure after production ceases from gas-bearing shale formations may take several hundred years, and (…) present critical hydraulic conductivity values for intervening aquitards, below which the impact on shallow aquifers will be negligible.” Abstract The rapid expansion in unconventional gas development over the past two …

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