Hydraulic fracturing, or “Hydro Fracking” or simply “Fracking”, is a controversial method used by energy companies to extract unconventional sources of natural gas such as shale gas, coal bed methane and tight gas. The process uses a mixture of sand, water and chemicals to fracture deep shale and other subsurface rock formations to release trapped natural gas. This natural gas, highly coveted due to its combustible nature, is used as an energy source, making it an alternative to using oil.
In the United States, this subsurface gas exists in significant quantities in states such as: West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas. The fracking boom has opened new avenues of extracting energy from the ground, but is not without heavy risks.
The fracking process uses 3-8 million gallons of water and tens of thousands of liters of toxic and radioactive chemicals for each frack job.
Once used, the dirty water is disposed of by injecting it deep into the earth or bringing it back to the surface for treatment. If not handled with care, toxic water is allowed to enter fresh water aquifers that people use to drink and bathe.
The goal is to extract the natural gas from the surface without allowing it to escape into the ground, water or into the air. Lack of attention to underground equipment and processes can allow natural gases to seep into the aquifer and further. If allowed to escape, flammable gases can now find their way to people’s faucets, basements and eventually reach our atmosphere.
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