By Steven Aliano
“The Truth about Fracking” by Chris Mooney in the November 2011 issue of Scientific American magazine describes the risk of contaminated drinking water that can be caused by fracking for natural gas. When multiple “fracks” are done in multiple, adjacent wells, the risk of contaminated groundwater may rise. In the industrial operation of fracking, including drilling and the storage of wastewater, contamination of this water has already been found. Tests have been applied, such as putting tracer chemicals down these wells to see if they come up in drinking water, which would determine whether or not fracking is safe or not. Despite these problems, regulators have been allowing fracking to occur in many areas of the country.
Fracking, in short, is the drilling of fractures in rock layers, such as shale, in order to release buried fossil fuels such as natural gas and petroleum. Energy companies have been increasingly using this technique, as has been shown in the media. It’s a shame that there has been a push for more of these drillings without taking in the risks. This story reminded me a lot of the health and environmental concerns of the areas in New York and New Jersey where industrial wastes were dumped as shown in the “Toxic Legacy” report. It seems that most things that have to do with natural gas and fossil fuels are very controversial, as we’ve seen with fracking. If we don’t see an alternative use of energy, we must begin to consider the dangers of this method before relying so heavily on it.
The public has a lot of questions when it comes to something as serious and permanent as fracking, so the people making the decisions behind whether or not to do their business in certain areas should wise up to the public’s concern over groundwater contamination. Like I had said earlier, when it comes down to things such as drilling and trying to find a sustainable alternative resource for energy and fuel, it’s always a controversial subject. I had read another article on Scientific American which broke down some of the various biofuels such as corn ethanol and algal oil. As great as these ideas sound, the cost to make them is expensive as well as the contamination rate and cost of energy is very high.
It does seem, however, that with deadlines coming up in the coming years to find more sources of energy, we are quick to do as much as we can as fast as we can to meet those deadlines, and cut down actions to find an alternative energy source. However, when you look at the many risks that come into play, we need to take it slow and make sure that no harm can be done.