Another break in a petroleum product pipeline has resulted in three million gallons of highly contaminated waste water, and an undeterminable amount of crude, flowing into a creek which feeds the Missouri River. The incident happened in northwest North Dakota. This accident adds to the proof that fracking is dangerous and a disaster destined to transpire.
While the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline is about to come to a vote in Washington, reasons for not allowing its construction continue.
Fracking is a hydraulic process which extracts natural gas trapped deep in the earth. Thousands of gallons of water mixed with sand and approximately 600 chemicals is forced into the well at extremely high rates of pressure. The shale is fractured, releasing gas to the surface. Several of the chemicals used in the process are extremely dangerous; some are carcinogenic.
Areas where fracking wells exist have also experienced increased earthquakes and numerous quakes where they seldom occurred previously.
The North Dakota Department of Health claims that drinking water coming from the Missouri River is not threatened. However, tests have shown that an undisclosed amount of the dangerous waste water is present at the confluence of the Missouri and Little Muddy rivers. The contamination was rated as ‘high level.’
Those in politics who shout ‘drill baby, drill,’ choose to ignore the facts. At what cost to people and the environment are we to allow the petroleum industry increased profits?
The dangers of fracking and pipelines which transport petroleum product are far too risky and are inviting disasters too numerous to predict.
While it is true that some pipelines have the benefit of allowing crude to be transported to refineries which in turn produce gasoline and diesel needed to fuel our vehicles, the Keystone XL is unnecessary. It will not provide permanent jobs for Americans, and it will have no effect on our oil reserves. The tar sands crude which will travel through the pipeline is unusable for the production of the type of fuel we use; and it is far more dangerous to the environment. A single break in the pipeline would cause nearly irreparable damage to land and water supplies.
Families who reside near fracking wells will tell you that they must be banned. Many dangers exist for people and the environment.
Over 400 tanker trucks are needed to transport water and materials used in fracking. They pose a danger to other traffic in the area, and many of the chemicals they carry are hazardous. A single accidental spill would raise havoc in a community.
When the water is mixed with sand and chemicals the result is 40,000 gallons of caustic fluid for a single fracking operation. Although petroleum companies claim that they dispose of the waste water, there is no way to know how much of it remains in the soil and pollutes underground rivers and streams. Among the 600 chemicals used are lead, uranium, mercury, ethylene glycol, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid, and formaldehyde.
To operate our current gas wells, which are numbered at more than 500,000; 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals are required.
Only time will tell how much damage has occurred in North Dakota. Water leaking from the pipeline poses an equal amount of danger as crude.
By James Turnage