What the Frack?
Fracking is a water-intensive process that poses numerous risks to Canada’s groundwater and surface water supplies. Without strong regulation, there is a high risk that water levels will be depleted at an unsustainable pace. Accessing shale rock uses a lot of energy and requires that wells be dug past the fresh water zone. Any cracks or damage to the protective barrier between the well wall and the protective casing risks water contamination – in fact, several incidents of contaminated domestic or drinking water wells have already been reported in the United States. There is currently no standardized procedure for the disposal of wastewater from this practice. This water is high in mineral and salt content, and also contains traces of chemicals and heavy metal particulates. As such, it must be dealt with properly.
Government-led investigations into the risks of this process are needed NOW, not after the industry has reached its full momentum. Up until this point, no Canadian federal or provincial regulators have taken a vocal stance on this issue. In fact, the National Energy Board has tended to downplay potential environmental impacts. The Canadian federal and provincial governments have a bad record of giving environmental assessment responsibilities for energy projects to industry regulators, rather than to environmental agencies. It is imperative that this doesn’t happen where shale gas production is concerned.
Fracking News and Resources:
Fracking, Shale Gas and Children's Health: Toxins and Vulnerable Populations Prevent Cancer Now, August 15, 2012
Nova Scotia delays Fracking decision for 2 years CBC News, April 17, 2012
Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream, and the fight against fracking, An Ounce e-Newsletter, Spring 2012
When Cowboys Cry: In today’s Wild West, energy corporations are the new outlaws, Orion Magazine, May/June 2012
A Rock and a Hard Place: The energy industry calls fracking a game changer. Environmentalists compare it to coal and oil., Walrus Magazine, December 2011
Fear of fracking: How public concerns put an energy renaissance at risk, Globe and Mail. March 9, 2012
Fracking, shale gas and cancer: Health risks at every step, An Ounce, Winter 2012
Ohioans Demand Fracking Moratorium at Ohio Statehouse Rally, January 10, 2012
Fracking likely linked to groundwater pollution in U.S. CBC News, December 8, 2011
Fracking operations increase risk of drinking water contamination: new study, Media Release, May 11, 2011
Shale Game: Playing with unknowns underground, Orion Magazine, June 2010
Fracking, shale gas and health: A case for precaution, An Ounce, Summer 2011
Fracture Lines: Will Canada’s water be protected in the shale gas rush?, Munk School of Global Affairs, October 2010