The House of Representatives approved the construction of the Keystone Pipeline this week; again. It was no surprise; the House is controlled by Republicans; most Democrats oppose it. Although the pipeline will not create permanent jobs, or relieve our dependence on foreign oil, they think it’s a good idea. They do not care about the environmental impact, or the possibility of and ecological disaster. The oil companies have more control over our nation than the government. Another serious issue is that there are over 500 gas wells across our nation which create great danger to the health of Americans and our clean water supply. The natural gas is extracted by fracking, a process which has no pros, and all cons.
This week Halliburton, the same company who was negligent in the ‘Deep Water Horizon’ disaster, was employed at a fracking operation in Colorado. Under below-freezing conditions, workers were attempting to thaw a high pressure water line. The line ruptured and one man was killed; two others injured.
Why was the Halliburton well operating under conditions which reached 18 below zero? Common sense indicated that it was not logical. But, after all, it was Halliburton.
The Anadarko Petroleum Company contracted Halliburton because of its experience. When the line burst immediate fears that the fracking liquid, which is a mixture containing several known carcinogens, had been released. Fortunately is was only water in a ‘pre-fracking’ operation.
Sadly a man lost his life. Just as sad is that fracking continues although it has proven to be an unhealthy and dangerous process.
What is fracking? It is a highly controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale that is 10,000 feet or more below the surface. A mixture of local freshwater is mixed with sand and 600 chemicals, including carcinogens, and is injected into the well under extreme pressure. When it reaches the shale, it fractures it, allowing the natural gas to rise to the surface. Recently some companies have been caught performing the illegal act of injecting diesel fuel as well.
Why is it dangerous to health and the ecosystem?
Each well uses between two and five million gallons of fresh water from the area. After it is mixed with the chemicals, and the fracking operation is completed, about one-half of the water is recovered at the surface. It is stored and eventually emptied into underground storage with other oil well contaminants.
What happens to the other half? Good question. No one knows or they’re simply not telling us. Environmentalists are convinced that it stays underground and seeps into underground rivers. As of this date seven states have filed complaints about water contamination caused by fracking.
An additional unhealthy and dangerous situation created by fracking is an enormous increase in eighteen wheel traffic in the area. Each well must be supported by hundreds of trucks carrying equipment and supplies to and from the wells.
Natural gas wells using the fracking method have been drilled within a mile of schools in some areas. Residents living close to the wells complain of air pollution caused by both the wells and from diesel fuel.
What can the average citizen do to protect their families from the effects of fracking? Nothing. We depend on our representatives in Washington to protect the health and well-being of our citizens. The only thing they protect are the oil and gas company’s profits.
By James Turnage