Hydraulic Fracturing: Controversy and Concern

Water Law Resource
August 16, 2013 — 1,662 views  
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Also known as ‘fracking’, hydraulic fracturing is one of the most widely used systems of obtaining natural gasses that are contained in large rock layers thousands of feet below the ground. The gasses that are released from beneath these rocky surfaces play a huge role in our daily lives and power a number of various contraptions that make our lives easier.

What is Hydraulic Fracturing?

The process of hydraulic fracturing is performed by pumping a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into a well of about 10,000 feet deep. The entire process will usually require roughly about 200 tankers of water. Also, the process of fracturing is not a drilling process and can only be performed once the drilled hole is completed. This system will basically create paths that allow the natural gases that are trapped beneath the rocky layers to escape with increased ease. This makes the extraction of these gases a lot faster.

The mixture of chemicals, sand and water comprises of about 98% sand and water with only the remaining amount being chemicals. The combination creates a potent mixture that has the ability to extend the life of older wells also. The exact combination of the mixture will depend on the depth of the well, its geographical location, and the various gasses present below the surface.

Experts believe that 60% to 80% of all the wells present in the United States of America have employed hydraulic fracturing to boost the productivity of the well.

Why is it Bad?

Water supply is one of the biggest concerns of environmentalists when it comes to hydraulic fracturing. Because the entire process requires significant shipments of water, there are a number of issues that come into play. As one hydraulic fracture would require about 200 trips by the truck to deliver the entire shipment, road repair costs as well as transportation costs soar through the roof. The use of toxic chemicals is also not lost on most people and the fact that these chemicals could affect the water quality of the water bodies that lie in close proximity and serve as the main source of water supply is also something that needs to be considered very seriously. Also, there is significant soil contamination around the site of hydraulic fracture. This is something that could affect the use of the land for agricultural purposes once the well has served its purpose.

The figures of individuals suffering from medical complications as a result of ingesting fracking chemicals are high. This shows that there are some serious dangers that need to be dealt with when it comes to hydraulic fracturing before it can be classified as a completely safe and viable method of gas extraction.

All in all, there are a number of very serious concerns that need to be looked at when it comes to hydraulic fracturing, but there are also a number of benefits that play a huge role in the advancement of our civilization and its dependence on the natural gasses that are trapped below these rocky shales. Experts are looking at ways to make the entire process more eco-friendly, to ensure that localities do not suffer serious long-term effects due to this process.

Water Law Resource


Experts believe that 60% to 80% of all the wells present in the United States of America have employed hydraulic fracturing to boost the productivity of the well. This article explains the pros and cons in hydraulic fracturing.