Monday, April 23, 2012

The Fracking Problem

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink
. ~ Samuel Coleridge Taylor
Of all the water on this wet, wet globe only a tiny amount (0.011%) is free flowing fresh water. The rest is locked up in ice, brackish or briny, or underground. Unfortunately, it's from that tiny amount that natural gas extractors draw the massive amounts of fluids they use for induced hydraulic fracturing.
A Pennsylvania fracking well and the Susquehanna River (source)
Frackers are like that James Bond villain, Maz Zorin, they have discovered how to make the earth quake for profit. While creating earthquakes is the more noticeable resulting of fracking and has turned normally quiet places like Lancaster, England into seismically active regions, water consumption and pollution is the far more concerning problem.

Each well uses up to five million gallons of water. The over 35,000 fracking wells in the United States consume as much water as a good sized city. Worse, before injecting the water underground the industry adds a cocktail of poisons to it such as benzene and ethylene glycol (antifreeze). Some of the water remains underground to work its way into aquifers. Some is recycled into other wells. Some is dumped into governmental sewage treatment plants, that can't remove the chemicals, and then returned to rivers and streams.

Pennsylvania has started just shipping the deadly waste water to Ohio because, fuck the Buckeyes. Perhaps the most perfidious use of the poisonous waste water is just dumping in on the roads as a "deicing" agent.

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