Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a procedure of fracturing rocks to force them open. This allows more gas and oil to flow out into the wellbore from where it can be extracted. The procedure of fracking involves injection of fluids (namely water which is mixed with sand and chemicals like petroleum and a uranium bearing solution) into the rock cracks thus forcing them to open. Due to this, more oil and gas are extracted from a given piece of land.
There are different ways of fracking. The ones that are commonly used are:
Mechanics: Mechanic fracturing is normally used in rocks at depth especially in the case of tensile fractures. This helps the walls of the fractures to move apart thus making way for the oil and gas to be easily removed
Veins: This system is a result of repeated hydraulic fracturing during high fluid pressure. Here, the vein material can be seen to be added to discrete fracturing events. This process is also known as ‘seismic pumping’
Dikes: During this process, minor intrusions are made and a fluid called magma is added
Non-hydraulic fracturing: Non-hydraulic fracturing involves liquid as well as solidified nitroglycerin. This process was later used to water and gas wells
Hydraulic fracturing: Hydraulic fracturing is normally used in oil and gas wells. It began on March 17, 1949. For this fracturing, 1,000 gallons of napalm and sand was injected. Since then, hydraulic fracturing has been used in approximately a million oil and gas wells and it has become a huge success.
Massive hydraulic fracturing: Massive hydraulic fracturing is also called as a high volume hydraulic fracturing. In this treatment, 150 short tons of proppant is used
Massive hydraulic fracturing in shales: Shales has low porosity and low permeability. Hence, in 1976, the US government started the Eastern Gas Shales Project. This technique is also called as ‘slickwater fracturing’. This increases the fluid flow thus making the gas extraction economical
Hydraulic fracturing of water-supply wells: Fracturing is not only used to extract oil and gas. It is now commonly used to yield drinking water from wells in many countries
Like every product, even fracking has its pros and cons. As discussed earlier, oil, gas and water can be extracted thru fracking. However, it also poses as a health hazard to humans and animals living near the wells and even worse to the workers working at the time of fracturing
The workers inhale the gas extracted thus giving a reason to lung cancer. Their bodies are also exposed to alpha, beta and gamma rays which lead to skin cancer along with other diseases involving the eyes, ears and other sensory organs. A lot of workers had their nervous system affected. A few studies conducted on the workers found out that their kidneys, blood and cardiovascular systems were deeply affected. Even people staying around the wells were not spared. A few chemicals that were mixed with water were not absorbed by earth. Hence, while evaporating they were a threat to people staying near the wells. Due to which the people around were not spared and they also got caught in the web of diseases
The only way out of this is to rehabilitate people around the site till the job is done thus making fracking safe for the people around.