by Holladay Allen
Native Foods Cafe
Awhile back we had a group of Illinois farmers and anti-fracking activists passed through our Loop location in Chicago. They were a passionate group and dead set on spreading their message to the masses: Fracking is bad, real bad. To tell you the truth, I did not even know what fracking what was until they contacted us, but it has a lot of people frazzled and scared… and really angry.
So what is fracking? Well, there alre alot of photos online that illustrate it to be some sort of black magic that can turn plain old tap water to fire!
But really it is methane that has seeped into the water supply. What does Wikipedia have to say about Methane?
Methane is not toxic; however, it is extremely flammable and may form explosive mixtures with air. Methane is violently reactive with oxidizers, halogens, and some halogen-containing compounds. Methane is also an asphyxiant and may displace oxygen in an enclosed space. Asphyxia may result if the oxygen concentration is reduced to below about 16% by displacement, as most people cantolerate a reduction from 21% to 16% without ill effects. The concentration of methane at which asphyxiation risk becomes significant is much higher than the 5–15% concentration in a flammable or explosive mixture. Possible health effects of breathing in methane at high concentrations, resulting in oxygen deficiency, are increased breathing and pulse rates, lack of muscular coordination, emotional upset, nausea and vomiting, loss of consciousness, respiratory collapse and death.
The Dangers of Fracking Website offers a great illustrated break down…. Here it is in bullet points:
- Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.
Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this image courtesy of The Watchers
- There are more than 500,000 active natural gas wells in the US & each gas well requires an average of 400 tanker trucks to carry water and supplies to and from the site. It takes 1-8 million gallons of water to complete each fracturing job.
- The water brought in is mixed with sand and
chemicals to create fracking fluid. Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals
are used per fracturing. Up to 600
chemicals are used in fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins
- ETHYLENE GLYCOL
- HYDROCHLORIC ACID
- FOR MALDEHYDE
From The Great Energy Challenge Blog: Natural gas flared as waste is a new sight on the Dakota prairie, where fracking—a way of extracting hard-to-reach oil—and directional drilling have sparked a boom. (Photograph by Eugene Richards)
- The fracking fluid is then pressure injected
into the ground through a drilled pipeline.
- 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals needed to run our current gas wells.
- The mixture reaches the end of the well where
the high pressure causes the nearby shale rock to crack, creating fissures
where natural gas flows into the well.
During this process, methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from the
system and contaminate nearby groundwater.
- Methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells.
- Contaminated well water is used for drinking water for nearby cities and towns.
- There have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.
- Only 30-50% of the fracturing fluid is recovered, the rest of the toxic fluid is left in the ground and is not biodegradable. The waste fluid is left in open air pits to evaporate, releasing harmful VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere, creating contaminated air, acid rain, and ground level ozone.
In the end, hydraulic fracking produces approximately 300,000 barrels of natural gas a day, but at the price of numerous enviromental, safety, and health hazards. Is it worth it?
Even if you don't live in an area affected by fracking, or more specifically an area the water affected by fracking, keep in mind that others do, as well as animals and wildlife that play a crucial roll in our ecosystem and our future.
Oh, and they cause Earthquakes in previously inactive areas. I mean we are literally jacking up the Earth's infrastructure in a sense.
From Mother Jones: 3.0-plus magnitude earthquakes in the midcontinental US. USGS
Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping massive amounts of water into the earth's crust to break apart rock, so it should be no surprise that small earthquakes that have occurred in Ohio and Arkansas have been linked to nearby wastewater wells. The wastewater wells take in the water used to fracture the rock, and because the water is thousands of feet underground, it is under very high pressure. Since thousands of these new wells are being developed in populated areas, even small earthquakes are alarming for most of these areas haven't been seismically active in the past.
Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of No Fracking Way.
Uh oh. Fracking is bad, real bad, but so is our dependency on natural gas... and I am not throwing any stones here because I definitely use my fair share of natural gas... so what is the solution? Collaborative efforts to reduce the need for natural gas by coming up with alternative sources? Perhaps..... but when money (lots of money) is involved things always get weird and biased and messed up.
There is a great documentary released by HBO about fracking called Gasland. Check it out, keep the conversation going... get involved!
Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurant, fracking, anti-fracking, fracking causes earthquakes