Tonawanda News

Columns

April 27, 2013

TUCKER: Fracking talk raises ire

Tonawanda News — A week ago, a talk by Kim Sherwood, a foremost authority on fracking was coming up and now, having heard his talk, it astounds me that there are actually pro-fracking people trying to pressure the state into allowing it.

Kim’s talk was a balanced discussion of the pros and cons, but which could not be interpreted in any other way than to be against the program. He talked about the two kinds of shale rock from which gas and oil are extracted. The wells are drilled 2500 feet down and then go horizontal into the rock. Controlled blasts break up the shale to release the gas or oil. And here’s the problem. In addition to the chemicals and tons and tons of water pumped by high pressure into the wells, the Marcellus shale (common around these parts) has radon in it. So when the water and chemicals return to the surface, they contain radioactive radon. Utica shale, on the other hand, has sand which comes back to the surface with the water and chemicals and can be trucked to water treatment plants. However, authorities are still considering what to do with the Marcellus waste. In addition, some of the contaminated water stays underground to surface in time, finding its way into wells, streams and rivers.

Add to all this, the number of trucks needed to bring in the 80,000 gallons of water per well. Trucks will make 1148 trips on a road to a site. Then there are surface spills and leaks likely as the well casings and concrete liners break down.

Kim noted that fracking is much more complex that is reported. And wouldn’t you think, after Love Canal, that the state DEC and others would be beyond cautious. However, as with most controversial matters, at the bottom of it all is money.

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