Let Them Drink
Poster campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing "fracking" for natural gas taking place in many states across America.
Locked underground beneath various earth formations, such as dense sand, shale and coal beds is a wealth of natural gases and oil. A method, called hydraulic fracturing, is used to recover the natural resources.
To allow these trapped natural resources to be released, the process of fracturing involves pumping a solution comprised of water, chemical additives and sand or ceramic pebbles (proppants) into the formation until it fractures and the gases are released. Fracking is used in approximately 90 percent of the nation's wells.
Chemicals Used in Fracturing
One of the main controversies surrounding the fracturing method is that drilling companies are not required to disclose the chemicals they use. The Energy Policy Act passed by Congress in 2005 excludes hydraulic fracturing fluids (except diesel fuel) for energy production from regulation. Individual states can set their own regulations.
A Texas state representative filed a new bill in March 2011 that would create a website to list all the chemicals used in each well. If passed, residents of the surrounding communities would know what chemicals are being released near their water supplies.
The formula varies depending on the drilling company and the depth of the shale or rock formation. According to data, fracture treatments use anywhere between 50,000 to 350,000 gallons of stimulation fracturing fluids.
Some of the toxic chemicals that are used and released in the process include:
Benzene (known to cause cancer)
To date, diesel fuel is the only substance that drillers have to obtain a permit for. The other distillates used are just as hazardous to humans. This is only a short list of the hazardous chemicals used to extract oil and natural gas. Even the smallest amount can contaminate millions of gallons of water.
Fracking is used in coalbed methane production (CBM) areas. Many coal beds contain underground drinking water supplies. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ten out of 11 CBMs are located in underground water supplies, which means that in some cases, chemicals from the fracking fluids are injected directly into the underground water supplies.
In addition to the water contamination from hazardous fracking fluids, the water supplies are also at risk of long-term contamination. It has been estimated that 20 to 40 percent of the chemicals are left underground following injection. The trapped chemicals can seep through the rock formations into the underground water supplies and cause long-term contamination.
Contamination can lead to skin irritations, reproductive complications, respiratory disease, cancer, and other serious health risks.