|With this ridiculously short-sighted, ‘any-quick-buck-to-help-balance-the-books’ government stating it is happy to see fracking proceed ( http://www.guardian.co.UK/environment/2012/Apr/17/gas-fracking-gets-green-light ); a lot of media attention has focused on the earthquake implications and almost completely missed the more significant issues.
Although today’s weather might make it seem like the wettest drought in history, water supply issues are an ever growing problem that fracking can only make substantially worse, at best, but could make catastrophic. This should be the big story at the moment.Some people have picked up on it, and this is a very good piece: http://forargyll.com/2012/04/question-how-can-we-license-fracking-when-we-have-permanent-drought/
The use of the word ‘permanent’ in describing the drought we have seen declared in some parts of the country is not, perhaps, very wise (and the writer has some misconceptions over drilling mud and frack fluid being the same thing) – but I endorse the following extract:
All the media are bleating about is the possibility of earthquakes triggered by the deep earth (3 miles down) detonations that fracture the shale. These have indeed in America and in the UK, with Cuadrillas experimental drilling in the Bowland Shale in Lancashire near Blackpool, caused earth tremors.
The risk of earthquakes is, by a substantial degree, the most minor of the hazards of the fracking process.
Fracking takes around 3,000,000 gallons of water a shot thats three million gallons, in case anyone thinks weve been over generous with the zeros.
Would anyone care to explain where this volume of water is to come from in the drought conditions the UK is already experiencing so early in the year – the worst in living memory and likely to remain a permanent feature of life in global warming?
At the moment 17 English counties are officially drought zones, there are hose pipe bans in force and the government is asking people to use water wisely.
Moreover the underlying water table is at an unprecedentedly low level.
Hose pipe bans seem risible in the light of a readiness to license fracking with its massive use of water to extend … the fractures caused by the deep detonations.
It is not as if this is water that can safely be returned to water courses after use.
This last point refers to the dreadful contamination of produced water – over and above of the chemicals thrown down in the frack fluid. But remember, no other human activity threatens not just water contamination – but water disappearance. Watch this; she is more eloquent than me:
The numbers get astronomical in terms of water usage in the fracking process. 3 million gallons per frack is a reasonable average. Using industry sources, there will be an average of around 10 boreholes per drilling pad, with at least 6 fracks per borehole in its lifetime. So that is 3x10x6 = 180 million gallons of water used per site. With sites needing be spaced at regular intervals of just a few miles apart (they are just a few hundred meters apart in some parts of the world) we could see 1000 + across South Wales alone. 180 billion gallons of water!!!!!!!! That is roughly 330 thousand Olympic sizes pools’ worth. Or nearly 3 Lake Windermeres!!!!
[These calculations are based on realistic averages – not upper limits which could inflate the total 40 fold. I leave the fanciful sums to the industry]
I am off to fix that dripping tap!