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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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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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Drilling and fracking poses significant health risks

Public health implications of environmental noise associated with unconventional oil and gas development

This review of the epidemiological literature focuses on the noise emitted by UOGD and its potential to trigger even grave disease. Key findings: Reviewed non-auditory health outcomes from environmental noise exposure. Potential outcomes include annoyance, sleep disturbance, and cardiovascular disease. Oil and gas operations produce noises at levels that may increase health risks. Additional noise …

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the 5 stages of the hydraulic fracturing watercircle

Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States (Final Report)

Here, the EPA is announcing the availability of the final report, Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States. Abstract This final report provides a review and synthesis of available scientific information concerning the relationship between hydraulic fracturing activities and drinking water …

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A seismogram

An Experimental Investigation of the Risk of Triggering Geological Disasters by Injection under Shear Stress

In this experimental work it was shown that the “risk of triggering geological disaster with injection under shear stress” does indeed exist, must not be denied. Abstract Fluid injection has been applied in many fields, such as hazardous waste deep well injection, forced circulation in geothermal fields, hydraulic fracturing, and CO2 geological storage. However, current …

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A seismogram

Fault activation by hydraulic fracturing in western Canada

Abstract: Hydraulic fracturing has been inferred to trigger the majority of injection-induced earthquakes in western Canada, in contrast to the midwestern United States where massive saltwater disposal is the dominant triggering mechanism. A template-based earthquake catalog from a seismically active Canadian shale play, combined with comprehensive injection data during a 4-month interval, shows that earthquakes …

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Huge banner showing three glasses w/ muddy water from different fracked counties in Pennsylvania.

Association of groundwater constituents with topography and distance to unconventional gas wells

The outcome of this large empirical evaluation of groundwater samples up and downwards from fracked UGD wells in Pennsylvania hints to possible negative impacts of UGD on water quality, thus to pathogenic effects of this production technique. Highlights Groundwater (GW) quality was associated with distance to UGD gas wells and topography. Ca, Cl, & SO4 …

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A pipe pours fracking waste into an unlined holding pond in Kern County, California. (Photo: Faces of Fracking/cc/flickr)

Potential water resource impacts of hydraulic fracturing from unconventional oil production in the Bakken shale

This study presents a critical review of potential water resource impacts due to deterministic (freshwater withdrawals and produced water management) and probabilistic events (spills due to leaking pipelines and truck accidents) related to UOP from the Bakken shale in ND. Key points: Summary of Bakken shale members and Williston basin. Water footprint and water contamination …

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A water monitoring station at a small creek in a foggy valley

Developing monitoring plans to detect spills related to natural gas production

This study sheds a light on the difficulty to detect toxic substances stemming from drilling and exploiting oil and natural gas wells. The authors suggest to place sensors, when practical, at the mouths of small watersheds where drilling activities or spill risks are present, as contaminant travel distance strongly affects concentrations in surface water systems. …

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