Natural gas plays an undeniably vital role in our country’s clean-energy future. It’s stable and self-sustaining, it’s cheaper than other alternatives, it can limit harmful emissions generated by oil and coal, and it has created millions of jobs in the process.
Yet, while natural gas provides many benefits, the process by which it is extracted has potential drawbacks. Natural gas is produced, in large part, by hydraulic fracturing. Also known as fracking, this is the process by which high-pressure fluid is injected into the ground to fracture shale rocks and release natural gas.
Fracking, which dates back to the 1940s, has played a pivotal role in the development of our natural gas resources. In fact, there are more than 500,000 natural gas wells in the United States alone.
While fracking is a relatively simple process, it involves many complex parts. Each gas well requires hundreds of tanker trucks to carry water supplies to and from each site, and each fracturing job takes one to eight million gallons of water to complete. That water is mixed with sand and chemicals to create fracking fluid (water accounts for roughly 90 percent of the mixture, sand accounts for roughly 9.5 percent and chemicals account for the other 0.5 percent).
The fracking fluid is injected at a high pressure into the ground through a pipeline. Once the mixture reaches the well, the high pressure causes the shale rock to crack, thereby creating fissures where natural gas is released and then stored.
While fracking fluid may seem harmless–after all, 99.5 percent of the mixture is water or sand–it poses many threats. Hundreds of hazardous materials are used in fracking fluid, including lead, radium, uranium, methanol, mercury, hydrochloric acid, ethylene glycol and formaldehyde. Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracturing.
And that only tells a fraction of the story–literally.
There are 500,000 active gas wells in the United States, eight million gallons of water are used per fracking, and wells can be fracked up to 18 times. Thus, 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals are needed to operate our gas wells.
Those chemicals, of course, can easily contaminate nearby groundwater. In fact, there have been more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination in gas-drilling areas that have resulted in sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage to people who have ingested contaminated water.
Unfortunately, as much as 50 to 70 percent of fracking fluid is not recovered or disposed of properly, so the remaining toxic fluid–which is not biodegradable–is left in the ground. That fluid is often left to evaporate, thereby releasing hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere that can contaminate air, acid rain, and ground-level ozone.
It is therefore imperative that fracking companies adopt proper hazardous waste disposal quickly and responsibly. Hazardous Waste Experts can help mightily in that endeavor.
“Extracting natural gas will only become more vital as time goes on, and hydraulic fracking is a key part of this process,” Hazardous Waste Experts CEO Mark Hope said. “When performed correctly and responsibly, hydraulic fracking has the ability to change the world for the better–and we have the power to help.”
In summary, hydraulic fracking produces an abundance of natural gas – an average of 300,000 barrels per day – but it can come at a cost to our environment, health, and safety. Don’t let it.
Please contact Hazardous Waste Experts at 800-936-2311 to learn more about hydraulic fracking fluid and to discover how we can best assist your disposal and cleanup.