HYDRAULIC FRACTURING 5
Hydraulicfracturing, of fracking, is a process of extracting natural gassesand hydrocarbons from the earth crust through drilling and injectingfluids into the ground at a higher pressure to fracture the sharerock. The process typically mixes water chemicals and proppants andpumps them into ground rock leading to fracturing of the ground rock.Other methods such using hydrochloric acid, the acidizing process orusing gases such as nitrogen or propane are also used to fracture theground rock releasing the gases and other hydrocarbons. The processbegan in Kansas in 1947, but a successful application of hydraulicfracturing was achieved in 1950. By 2012, there were over 2.5 millionfracking jobs worldwide, with half of those in the US. The processhas eased the excavation of the hydrocarbons owing to its financialviability but has had detrimental long-term impacts on the health andwellbeing of the citizens. It is estimated that almost all wellsdrilled today in the US undergo fracturing treatment, a factor thathas continued to threaten the health and wellbeing of the populace(Zillman et al., 2014). This paper exemplifies the variousdisadvantages of fracturing, forming the rationale why the processneed to be abandoned.
Statistically,Fracturing uses eight million gallons of water per fracturing. Thereare over five hundred thousand active gas wells in the US, each ofwhich can be fractured up to eighteen times. This means that overseventy- two trillion gallons of water will be used, together withthree hundred and sixty billion gallons of chemicals in thefracturing processes of the active gas wells in the US today. Thiswill reduce water availability and adversely affect the environment.During the process, methane gas and other toxic chemicals leak fromthe fracturing system and contaminate the ground water. Researchevidence that groundwater near fracturing systems are seventeen timesconcentrated in methane gas compared to groundwater in areas wherethe process has never been implemented. Additionally, there have beenover thousand documented cases of water contamination next tofracturing systems. Among the reported cases include of sensory,neurological and respiratory damages that are attributed to theconsumption of contaminated water (Zillman et al., 2014).
Onlythirty to fifty percent of the fracturing additives are recoveredafter the completion of the fracturing process. The rest are left onthe ground, most of which are mutagenic or carcinogenic, likely tocause long-term adverse impacts on health and wellbeing of thepopulace. Additionally, the process extracts heavy metals, naturalsalts, and radioactive materials alongside hydrocarbons, which poserisks to the ecosystem when released to the surface. The fracturingflow-back is collected and disposed of in most cases without adequatetreatment. The evaporation of the flow-back fluid releases harmfulvolatile organic compounds (VOCs), which pollutes the environmentforming acid rain and ground-level ozone. This threatens theecosystem predisposing human, plants and animals to pollution-relatedhealth risks (Zillman et al., 2014).
Completionof the fracking process produces approximately three hundred thousandbarrels of natural gases a day, a quantity that has led to asignificant drop in the price of natural gasses. However, the processhas had numerous adversities on environmental safety that imposessignificant costs on the public. Additionally, fracturing competesfor investments with green energy sources, which has hampered thedevelopment of greenhouse technologies. Economics 101 states thatindustries that impose significant costs on the third parties shouldinternalize these costs, through paying for the damage caused orclose down (Zillman et al., 2014). As such, we should invest ingreenhouse technologies and abandon the fracturing process hopingthat modern technologies will develop more appropriate strategies ofhandling all errors of the fracturing process. Meanwhile,hydrocarbons should remain safe in the shale, with the societyadopting and aggressively investing in renewable sources of energy.
Zillman,D., McHarg, A., Barrera-Hernández, L. K., & Bradbrook, A.,(2014). The law of energy underground: Understanding newdevelopments in subsurface production, transmission, and storage.Oxford: Oxford University Press