Friday, 8 August 2014

The Fracking Debate

Last night I watched a programme on PBS America about fracking. It was quite an eye opener. I knew that there was a danger from the breaking of rocks underground, but had not appreciated everything else. The extraction process uses a lot of very nasty chemicals. Many are carcinogenic, but others are neurological in their effect. These can, and apparently do, escape into the air. Children living near fracking wells have been seen to suffer from tremendous nose bleeds. The wells themselves may be a long way away from housing, schools etc, but the bores travel kilometers underground. They line the boreholes with cement, but sometimes this cracks and allows the chemicals to escape. There are also natural vertical splits in the rock up which these nasties can go.

Not only that, but the water they use is highly toxic when it comes out. In some places in the States it has seeped into the drinking water. Methane has also come out of taps. The programme showed a running tap being lit by a flame. This is obviously a great danger.Houses could blow up if methane seeps in and a spark is struck.

This toxic water is a huge problem. Where to dump it? It cannot be left lying around and so they are burying it deep underground. This process has already produced earthquakes in parts of the USA. Some places are reporting several each day. The industry uses vast amounts of water that is beign taken out of the water cycle for ever. Eventually, along with climate change, this will result in very severe droughts and possibly famine.

One state in the USA, I forget which, has banned fracking, as also has France. What do we prefer--Pay  more for our energy, or risk severe health problems and possible famine, and also increased risk of earthquakes?

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