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Fracking risks are manageable: report

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Environment Materials Sustainability fracking hydraulic fracturing

The report, by the Fraser Institute, finds that fracking-related concerns about drinking water and air quality are largely unfounded.

While hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, remains unpopular in some quarters, the risks are manageable, according to a new report by the Fraser Institute.

Fracking is the practice of sending superpressurized water down wellbores to fracture deep-bed rock formations and release natural gas from previously uneconomic deposits trapped deep underground in isolated pockets within sedimentary rock known as shale. The fracking boom has the potential to increase natural gas supplies and allow increased domestic production of resins such as polyethylene, but the process has been banned in the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and in New York State.

“Ground water contamination is one of the greatest concerns voiced by opponents of hydraulic fracturing,” the Fraser Institute study reports. “But as a recent US Environmental Protection Agency multi-year study found, hydraulic fracturing has not led to systemic impacts on drinking water. Research has also found that risks from well integrity failure are minimal when best practice procedures are implemented.”

The report also determined that “risks from exposure to the various air emissions generated by hydraulic fracturing are found to be minimal and manageable. Hydraulic fracturing and the natural gas it produces could also lead to fewer CO2 emissions if natural gas displaces coal in electricity generation.”


The report adds that “while hydraulic fracturing can cause increased seismic activity, the tremors generated by the process are often very small – undetectable at the earth’s surface. When compared with other industries such as mining and conventional oil and gas extraction, the magnitudes and incidences of earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing are quite minimal.”

The full report can be found at this link.


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