Hydraulic fracturing is a process of harvesting natural gas from shale rock by drilling into it and injecting fluids at high pressures until the rock is fractured. Fracking began as an experiment in the 1940’s and has now being used by oil companies as a way to harvest natural gases. While fracking may be a way to gain economic profits by providing jobs and a US-based energy source, the risks of fracking must be addressed by proper pollution-control initiatives.
The main issue is the water contamination caused by the dumped wastewater or produced water. Fracking produces wastewater whose full effect on surrounding water and air supplies are just now being tested.
Currently, California is the only state to have a comprehensive air and water contamination evaluation system in place. This monitoring system tests air and water quality near unconventional drilling sites and reports back the chemicals deposited by produced water.
This new monitoring system has been implemented since 2013 and has found carcinogens, lead, radioactive chemicals, benzene, arsenic and other cancer causing chemicals in 83% of samples.
Monitoring the dump sites is the first step, but the more important issue is being able to find the dump sites since fracking companies are not required to disclose where they dispose of their produced water.
The current solution is problematic as produced water treatment facilities are few and far between. The cost of transporting the contaminated water has proved to be prohibitive to fracking companies.
One solution being used by a few fracking companies is recycling the produced water. These companies have built above-ground water treatment facilities on their fracking sites to be able clean their own produced water as well as to reuse this water for fracking again. This recycling solution not only saves the environment from contaminated produced water, it saves the company the time and money that would be used to transport and clean their water and it also provides an endless supply of injection water for their fracking business.
While produced water is currently one of the greatest local environmental concerns, as with any challenge, it is becoming a great catalyst for the human ingenuity necessary to find a solution to this problem.
To learn how Baker Furnace is working to address the water problems associated with fracking, click HERE.