Fracking: Friend Or Foe?
Fracking has certainly caused much controversy around the world, but what’s all the fuss about and are protestors right to be concerned?
What is fracking?
The technical term for fracking is ‘hydraulic fracturing’. It’s an industrial mining process which entails injecting shale rock beds with a mix of water, sand and chemicals. The high pressure injection process splits the rock allowing the natural gas trapped within it to be released and collected via a well.
Fracking is hailed as a new energy source that could replace rapidly disappearing supplies of fossil fuels, but environmentalists have concerns. Many of the chemicals used in the fracking process are said to be carcinogenic and there are fears that they could enter the water system, posing a threat to people and wildlife. Evidence has already been produced in the US suggesting that fracking causes pollution of the groundwater system with radiation, methane and cancer-causing chemicals.
Wells could be sealed which would in theory protect drinking water supplies for people, but animals might still drink contaminated groundwater. Affected cattle and sheep could enter the human food chain undetected via contaminated meat products. Even vegetarians might not escape the potential danger as arable crops, fruit and vegetables could suck up contaminated water as they grow.
It seems that the purity of the air we breathe is also at risk from fracking. Toxic hydrocarbons and carcinogens have been detected in the air around fracking operations close to residential areas raising fears that the number of cases of leukemia and asthma could rise in cities close to fracking sites.
Fracking produces massive amounts of the greenhouse gas methane which flies in the face of claims that the process could provide an eco-friendly energy resource. Local infrastructures could also be risk of damage from fracking operations as the process has been proven to cause seismic activity including small earthquakes that could damage buildings and transport networks.
Fracking is likely to be the next form of non-renewable energy to replace oil, natural gas and coal but at what environmental cost?
Image source: america.aljazeera.com
About Alison Page
Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies.