Fracking debate explodes again as new evidence on earthquakes and water poisoning is released

As the US’s “shale gas revolution” continues apace, the low energy prices aren’t the only thing rocking the Land of the Free. A sharp rise in earthquakes has been recorded in Oklahoma, a state which has experienced a boom in shale gas production.

According to the research, published in the journal Science, since 2008, there has been a forty-fold increase in the rate of quakes.

Researchers found that the huge jets of high pressure waste water used in hydraulic fracturing could be the cause of tremors felt up to 35km away from drilling sites.

According to the BBC, in 2011, a number of people were injured and 14 houses were destroyed in the town of Prague, Oklahoma, which was struck by a tremor measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale.

Britain

Meanwhile in Britain, where the government is anxious to commence shale gas extraction, a piece of major research into the potential for fracking activities to contaminate drinking water has been published.

The British Geological Survey and the Environment agency have mapped out where the UK’s key aquifers (subterranean water ducts) which supply drinking water, meet shale gas areas.

The key risk is that methane released during the high-pressure fracking process will contaminate nearby aquifers.

According to the BBC, the study found that the Bowland Shale in northern England, which was the first to be investigated for shale gas potential, runs below six major aquifers.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Anonymous

    Wow. What a terrible title. A little bit biased are we?... 'explodes', 'earthquakes' and 'poison' all in one. Oh well.

    You'll find that the earthquakes in the science paper are caused by waste water injection - yet another major difference between the UK and US since that process is banned in Europe. Earthquakes caused by fracking (yes, it can cause it) are very rare geologically so do not happen everywhere, they are controllable, but most of all they are also very very very small.

    As for 'poison', what nonsense! Please don't confuse contamination for poisoning. The air in London is quite contaminated, it is not poisonous. Fracking fluids are 99.9% water and the rest of the chemicals you will receive in higher concentrations in a public swimming pool or when you wash your hair.

    Apart from normal NIMBYism, which is fair enough if you don't want any development anywhere, the whole thing is being stirred up by a few hundred protesters and their uneducated facebook friends list that does nothing but misquote US regulation issues and pretend the same will happen here when it cannot, and will not.

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