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Fracking Essay

2057 words - 9 pages

Hydraulic Fracturing is a controversial oil and gas extraction process developed in the late 1940s to gain access to natural gas deposits trapped miles under U.S. soil. Hydraulic Fracturing also known as hydrofracking is currently used in over 20 states including California. “California records showed fracking operations in 10 counties counties: Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Kings and Ventura , as well as in state waters off Los Angeles. Kern County is currently California’s major oil-producing county; Halliburton (an American multinational corporation which is also one of the world's most significant oil manufacture companies with business in more than 80 countries) estimates that 50 percent to 60 percent of new oil wells are fracked. Fracking is likely being done elsewhere in California but is unmonitored by state officials.” The systematic process begins with drilling a vertical well approximately 1.5 miles into the ground rock then horizontally through shale rock. A mixture of sand, water and other additives is then pumped into the well. After, perforated tools carrying conductors travel down the well and once they are in place a shock is ignited intended to create new fissures in the rock and/or increase the size of existing fissures for improved extraction. A popping agent is then pumped into the fractures to prevent them from closing after pumping pressure is released. Injected products rise to the surface where it is stored in tanks or pits prior to recycle or disposal. Natural gasses seep into these fractures or fissures and are released through the well. Though fracking may seem to be harmless because of the use of “organic” substances like rock, sand and water, the byproducts and process itself does raise health and safety risks as well as its benefits for the economy.
One of the biggest health and environmental concerns regarding the impacts of hydrofracking is the potential contamination of underground water supply and surface water. There are 500,00 something odd active gas wells in the United States—8 million gallons of water is used per fracking—and each well can be fracked 18 times. 72 trillion gallons of water is used and 360 billion gallons of chemicals are needed to run current gas wells. In the end, hydraulic fracking produces approximately 300,000 barrels of natural gas a day, but at the price of numerous environmental, safety and health hazards. Storage for the wastewater can take place either on site, in an injection well, or in open-air ponds in the surrounding areas. This can pose air pollution and drinking water contamination not to mention transportation of the waste creates an additional risk outside of the well location. Whilst, each well produces millions of gallons of toxic fluid containing additive chemicals, other naturally occurring radioactive material, liquid hydrocarbons, brine water and heavy metals. The dense rock is believed to act as barriers between...

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