Thursday, May 13, 2010

In rural New York, people are saying: What the frack?

VALOIS, New York, USA - When I arrived in Central New York two weeks ago, I saw signs all over the place that say 'No Fracking.'

Being relatively attuned to the language, I thought, 'What the frack is that all about?'

Fracking indeed.

It turns out that fracking is short for hydrofracking, a method to extract gas from the ground by cracking shale deposits in a fairly complicated process that also produces huge volumes of toxic waste water. And it also seems to be polluting ground water, driving some people out of their homes and, in Pennsylvia, caused at least one well 'explosion.'

What the frack?

Fracking demonstration
Anti-fracking demonstration

If my reading of various reports about this procedure are accurate, fracking might be the best argument for nuclear power. Nuclear power seems less problematic.

Just the amount of water it takes - water that is injected into the shale to basically make it explode to let the gas loose - is incredible, even here in water-rich New York.

The companies involved say that being allowed to use this procedure could provide lots of gas for home heating, industry, etc... And it would create lots of jobs. Unfortunately, many of those jobs will be in the toxic waste cleanup industry.

Here's a quote from the director of a clean-water program:

"Hydrofracking injects large volumes of water (up to six million gallons of water per gas well) mixed with sand and toxic chemical additives at high pressures to release the gas. Most of the water is then returned to the surface as polluted wastewater – that must be treated by wastewater treatment plants already overburdened and not necessarily designed to remove these chemicals. Industry analysts predict it will cost $3 billion to treat the industrial wastewater associated with Marcellus shale development."

And here is the link to that January article:

  • The problems of hydrofracking

  •  Later today, I will be heading out to a local pond, to do some fishing. I hope that I don't get overcome by the smell of methane gas, or have to worry that the fish in the pond (should I actually catch one) have been sucking in toxic waste.

    What the frack, indeed.

    Other hydrofracking links:

  • From

  • Fox News say hydrofracking is fine

  • Scientists disagree on impacts