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What is Fracking, and is it Safe?

Fracking

What’s in this guide?

Introduction

Fracking is often a hot topic, but that’s because it is so controversial.

It is either the answer to the UK’s future energy needs, or it is fundamentally going to destroy most of the country, and it’s residents.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about fracking, including the science behind it and what top universities are saying on the topic.

Let’s dive in and find out more.

What is fracking?

So, what exactly is fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ for short, is the process of drilling into the ground and injecting high-pressure fluids to crack shale rocks to release natural gas inside.

These shale gas reserves have been identified in multiple locations in the UK. But, they haven’t been accessing these sites yet.

In North America, fracking has already been adopted by many states as it has been left to each state to decide whether they want it to happen on their land.

So far some states have allowed fracking.

While New York has a ban on the practice as there is a worry about the long-term effects on the people of New York.

According to reports, there have been severe adverse effects on local communities and their environment. This has further caused concern in other countries that haven’t accepted this process yet.

The science

Here’s where it gets tricky for those who support fracking.

There have been actual studies from universities both in the UK and in the USA that aren’t specifically targeted at dismissing just fracking, but at any practice that burns fossil fuels and causes carbon emissions.

For instance, a recent study, researchers from the University College London confirmed that most fossil fuels worldwide must remain untouched if there is to be a limit of global warming.

Unfortunately, that isn’t likely to happen unless there are strict laws put on both energy suppliers and energy producers, to switch to renewable energy sources.

When it comes to fracking specifically, the French government passed a law in 2017 to ban fracking and oil production in the French mainland as well as any overseas territories.

They stated environmental reasons for passing this law, and it will see France declining any permits. Which further bolsters their commitment to lower their emissions by 40% by 2030.

Furthermore, when it comes to fracking, there is research from Yale University that says that the fracking fluids used to break the shale rock, unfortunately, has a portion leaked into the environment.

These fluids could be toxic, as well as containing radium and radon, which are both highly radioactive substances.

Is fracking dangerous?

You’ll hear different bits of information depending on which side of the argument you listen to.

On the one hand, EnergyFromShale.org is an alliance of gas and oil industry groups state that fracking is clean, accessible and safe.

However, on the other hand, opponents say that there are health problems and contamination of nature which makes fracking dangerous.

They say that the evidence is in the Chesapeake malfunction in 2011. Which leaked many hundreds of gallons of contaminated fracking water into the ground for approximately around 12 hours.

Then, in 2012 the same company contaminated the water of three families in Pennsylvania.

This lead to the company settling for around $1.6 million, according to NPR.org.

Some organisations have also linked fracking to earthquakes in the states. Especially in states such as Oklahoma and tremors in Texas.

It seems that by not fracking, energy-related companies will have to focus on renewable energy sources. However, when fracking there might be permanent damage to residents and the earth.

Studies from universities

There are many studies and articles from famous, high-level universities in the UK and the USA. They study the different effects of fracking, both in support and against the idea.

Is Fracking Safe? – Yale Health Review

Shale gas is one of the least sustainable ways to produce electricity – Manchester University

Refine – Newcastle University

Study to track trends in the public’s opinion on fracking – University of Stirling