Fracking requires huge amounts of water when it's pumped down the wellbore under very high pressure to fracture the rock formations. Ten million litres of water can be used for each frack, and each well is fracked many times. Most of the water remains underground and is permanently lost to the hydrologic cycle: that is, it will never return to the surface, then evaporate and fall again as rain or snow. The water required for the fracking process is usually taken from surface lakes, rivers, creeks and wetlands. Since the volume of water required for fracking is so large, the process changes the hydrology of the region and leads to drought conditions.
Some of the frack water does come back to the surface, and is called back flow because of the pressures used in the process. The backflow is highly contaminated with fracking fluids, which are used as lubricants in the process. These fracking fluids contain a large number of chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. The actual contents of fracking fluid are often considered by the drilling companies as proprietary, and are kept secret from the public.
Air has been contaminated in areas that have been fracked, as a result of the migration of gases to the surface. Some, such as hydrogen sulphide, are very toxic and can kill people and animals that are exposed to it. Excess gas produced in a well is often flared or burned off at the site. This releases a variety of contaminants into the air, and these have been shown to create health problems for both people and animals.
The fracking process has been identified by the scientific community as a major contributor to the increase of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane. Carbon dioxide is produced and released into the atmosphere at every stage of the fracking process including trucking, the operation of compressors, and the flaring of excess gas. Methane is released into the atmosphere during the drilling process itself (“fugitive methane”) with fracking wells releasing between 40 to 60 per cent more methane than conventional natural gas wells. Methane in particular is a very powerful greenhouse gas, trapping 20 to 25 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2. Research has shown that only 6% of newly drilled wells emit no methane, and hundreds of thousands of abandoned wells continue to leak when companies aren’t held accountable for reclamation.
The backflow cannot be treated and returned to the environment, so it is disposed of in deep wells. This process has been identified as the cause of seismic activity (earthquakes). Seismic activity in areas that have been fracked, has increased by many times, in strength and frequency.
Fracking is a major industrial activity that requires hundreds of trucks to bring the equipment and materials to the well site. Since the fracking process must be repeated many times in order to be economically viable, it causes damage to roads and bridges that are not designed to handle such an increase in volume and weight of traffic. If fracking is implemented in the Yukon, citizens will be left with the cost of repairing and maintaining the infrastructure. In one county in Texas, when the fracking operations had moved on to the next location, the cost to repair the infrastructure damage exceeded the total royalties, fees and taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars.
The fracking process is very expensive and even when the price for oil was at a record high, most oil produced by fracking cost more to produce than could be recovered. Many companies involved in fracking are deeply in debt, and must keep pumping oil or gas in order to pay service on that debt. Investment in petroleum was declining even before the recent drop in oil prices, because major investors have been removing their funds from the oil and gas industry.
The future for the entire petroleum industry is becoming more uncertain, and fracking is the least likely of all components in this industry to attract investment, because of its high cost. Employment in the petroleum industry is now reducing daily. Even in boom times, there were few skilled jobs created by the fracking industry. The large majority of jobs created by the industry consist of short term and unskilled positions.
Top 7 Reasons to Ban Fracking