So, what is "fracking"?
Unconventional hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") is a technique used to crack layers of shale rock underground, usually for the purpose of extracting oil or natural gas. It involves injecting a fluid down a well under massive pressure, in order to force open cracks in the targeted rock.
Conventional hydraulic fracturing has been used since the 1950s to create small cracks spreading only a few feet around well-bores, by injection of between 50,000 and 200,000 gallons of nitrogen foam or gel. This is to speed up the flow where the oil or gas bottlenecks as it enters the well-bore and it usually will not have effects beyond that.
However, recently unconventional hydraulic fracturing (otherwise known as “massive slickwater hydraulic fracturing”) has been used to extract gas from within impermeable rock formations, such as shale. Unlike conventional hydraulic extraction, this unconventional hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" requires large numbers of wells which each drain an area of 40-80 acres. This involves the use of anything from 2 to 8 million gallons or even more of slickwater (a mixture of water, sand and chemicals) per well to fracture the rock in up to 40 stages along a mile or more of horizontal drillings, creating fractures hundreds of meters from the wellbore: and similar parallel horizontals are usually situated to drain adjacent areas.
Why should we worry about fracking?
For the local people affected, “fracking” has come to mean a load of companies turning up where they live and coating the area in hundreds or thousands of well pads, compressor stations and pipelines, with a huge variety of extremely negative consequences.
Focused as they are on getting gas and oil out of the ground at any cost, the industry and government are concerned with the technologies which can be used to do so. They work on a drill-site by drill-site basis, and the cumulative impact of the whole process is not something that concerns them. It is also useful in their public relations to focus on small details rather than the big picture - a very different focus reflecting the different concerns of those involved.
Fracking has numerous diverse and severe impacts on the environment, wildlife and livestock and the health of local residents, which includes but is not limited to (links to external websites): Water Contamination, Air Pollution, Radioactive Contamination, Human Health, Agriculture & Animal Health, Wildlife, Methane Migration, Climate Change, Fracking Waste, Water Usage, Earthquakes, Transport, Pipelines, Blowouts, Spills & Explosions, Frack Sand, Leaking Wells, Orphaned Wells, Industrialisation, Secrecy, Oppression, Corruption, and Bubble Economics.
After raising awareness through campaigns, fracking (Hydraulic fracturing) has now been banned in parts of Australia, as well as in some states of the U.S.A., some Canadian provinces, and has been totally banned by France, Germany, Bulgaria and the Irish Republic because of the effects on the community and environment. The Netherlands has also recently (2018) banned fracking following extensive damage to housing and other buildings as a result of fracking-induced earthquakes. In the UK, Northern Ireland has banned fracking altogether and both Wales and Scotland have a moratorium in place; England is the only part of the UK not to have banned or restricted the practice and indeed since 2010 the Government has actively supported it, despite massive opposition.