Practice of fracking is threatening our water reserves

Duncan – A local resident recently wrote about the monetary significance of hydrocarbon extraction and exportation. What many advocates of the oil-dependence industry seem to ignore completely is the short-sighted and toxic process with which unconventional oil and gas sources are being extracted. This process is known as induced hydraulic fracturing, or fracking (for short).

There is growing peer-reviewed scientific evidence of the harmful effects of shale gas development. Pro-fracking opinions focus on the big bucks and ignore the detrimental effects on our limited, fresh water systems.

There are a million well sites in North America which have used fracking. A horizontal well in a shale formation can use between 7.5 million to 19 million litres of water. That water used for extraction in gas shale “plays” becomes toxic by the addition of water-based fracturing fluids mixed with friction-reducing additives; biocides to prevent microorganism growth and to reduce biofouling of the fractures; oxygen scavengers and other stabilizers to prevent corrosion of metal pipes; and acids that are used to remove drilling mud. Eighty per cent of this fracking fluid comes back to the surface and 20 per cent stays in the shale excavation “play”. This fracking fluid is highly toxic and contaminates local well water, rivers, and underground water systems.

This is the part which outweighs the financial benefits of present fracking and non-conventional oil extraction methods. Our North American water reserves are limited. Toxifying our limited water resources is insanity to say the least.

No amount of remuneration can justify contaminating underground water beds and surface water courses for coming generations.

As of 2012, 2.5 million hydraulic fracturing jobs have been performed on oil and gas wells worldwide! Do an Internet search on the topic of fracking and why it is so controversial.

Be wary of industry-backed politicians who would smooth over the dangers of fracking.

Water well testing must take place both prior to and after seismic testing operations. If a well-owner does not test and show healthy conditions were present prior to nearby fracking, then there is no possibility of claiming damages when contamination does eventually occur.

For the last hundred years, water rights belong to the owner of the land.

Tough luck for those landowners and city-dwellers downstream, since liability favors industry not local taxpayers. High cancer rates and damaging side-effects to human and animal life occur where tailing ponds and fracking fluid has escaped into underground and above-ground waterways.

How can we not seriously demand alternatives to oil/gas addiction and its collateral damage? There is money to be made and jobs to be had, but it requires focusing on developing those alternatives. Industry is not going to encourage that shift. Politicians serve industry and corporate interests, not the long-term health of the nation. And once again, fresh, drinkable water is becoming threatened by fracking practices.

Bill Woollam

Duncan