What is Fracking?
Fracking is a type of drilling used to extract fossil fuels (Oil and Gas) from the ground, it involves drilling into a rock formation, then pushing in large amounts of a water and chemical mixture (Fracking fluid) at high pressure to extract oil or gas from the cracked rock formations.
Water Use and Pollution
A single frack uses 5-10 Olympic swimming pools of clean water (10 billion gallons or more) which are turned into toxic ‘flowback/produced water’ which must be treated and disposed of. Methane produced by fracking migrates via the damaged aquifers into drinking water.
Corporate Profit vs Community Cost
The impacts and dangers from fracking are extreme and long term and are borne by local communities who find themselves living in the middle of gas fields. The rewards go to an elite of shareholders, directors and investors. Any benefits to locals – such as jobs – are short-term: unskilled and high risk, including a high incidence of the lung disease silicosis, resulting from exposure to silica. Such benefits are vastly outweighed by the costs.
The methane produced by fracking leaks into the atmosphere as fugitive emissions. Over a 20 year period it is 100 times worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and more polluting than coal. Ozone, aromatic hydrocarbons and silica gas (see above) are also produced by drilling and fracking, and there is further pollution from construction, drilling rigs and machinery. About 6% of wells leak immediately; 50% leak within 15 years.
Damaging Health & Countryside
Most wells require many sites: needing roads, foundations, floodlights and enclosures. Wildlife corridors are disrupted, habitats fragmented and damaged or destroyed. The evidence is mounting: in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania in the U.S, & Queensland (Australia) people have been exposed to toxic, carcinogenic and hormone disrupting chemicals in air and water, causing symptoms ranging from headaches and breathing difficulties to neurological impairment. Animals and crops were killed in Alberta, North Dakota, New Mexico, California and Pennsylvania.
We Can Win
At Leith Hill in Surrey locals and their supporters have been fighting the fracking company Europa Oil and Gas Ltd for 6 years. Despite being granted planning permission, Europa Oil and Gas Ltd’s plans were thwarted for 8 months by a camp and fort built in their way, and the struggle continues. At Preston New Road in Lancashire the council’s decision to refuse Cuadrilla planning permission was overturned by the government (so much for supporting ‘local democracy’!). Cuadrilla’s plans to build the drilling site in July were defeated by a month of rolling resistance with protests and actions every day ranging from blockades to carnival processions and picnics. The site ground to a halt, and Cuadrilla have been haemorrhaging support ever since, successively abandoned by the North Wales police, L & M transport, who said “We can state that we will never knowingly work for Cuadrilla or any agents involved with Cuadrilla or the fracking industry again.” Followed by the crane operators. Campaigners have been successfully targeting the financial backers: Barclays sold its 97% stake in the Third Energy fracking company. A recent Heriot-Watt University survey found that UK fracking could produce significantly less gas than expected, with little profit return – let’s finish them off!
For information about the anti-fracking resistance movement, check: