Thursday, January 5, 2012


by Richard Crews
Fracking is a process used in retrieving natural gas from sites where it is locked up in rock formations so that it does not flow out easily. In fracking, millions of gallons of waste-water laced with special chemicals are pumped into the reluctant wells under high pressure. This causes cracks or "fractures" in the rock formations; these spread and extend, allowing the gas to flow out more freely.

There are two problems with fracking. First, many of the chemicals added to the waste-water are toxic--hundreds of them are known to be carcinogens or otherwise potentially dangerous or damaging to life, including to human life. Some of these chemicals are added by the ton to the water pumped into the well (up to 2% of the fluid volume consists of added chemicals), and they sometimes seep out and contaminate wells and groundwater used for irrigation of crops.

As a result, fracking has been outlawed in several countries.

The second reason is that fracking can apparently cause earthquakes. Several sites in the U.S. have reported significant increases in earthquake activity, from a few per year, all small, up to thousands per year with magnitudes up to 4.0. Although earthquakes of this size rarely cause any damage, even people who do not live in California or Japan worry about having the ground tremble under them a lot.