What does one think of when they hear the word fracking? Most people think of its similarity to a curse word. In reality fracking is a curse word, in terms of its severity. Fracking is one of the most dangerous styles of oil drilling, causing not only damage to the environment, but damage to the earth’s crust. Fracking is a way of drilling for oil, which involves forcing highly pressurized liquid into the earth’s crust, breaking apart rock formations, and forcing oil up out of the ground. Fracking is basically using high pressure water guns to break apart rocks in the crust, and forcing out oil with the pressure.
Traditional oil reservoirs are large amounts of oil condensed in one area, but fracking is done when there is a large amount of oil, but it’s spread out in many rock formations. Not only is fracking endangering the lives of oil rig workers, but it is endangering the lives of everyone on earth. Fracking is directly responsible for destroying parts of major tectonic plates in Oklahoma, which in turn has resulted in major seismic activity in an area that previously had virtually no earthquakes. Now, Oklahoma experiences over 1000 earthquakes per year. Fracking is a dangerous practice because of loss of life, dangers to the environment, and there are many renewable alternatives that make fracking obsolete.
Since 2010, the death rate for oil rig workers has increased by over 7.4%, and is directly correlated to an increase in fracking. Fracking has been known to destroy the ground beneath oil rigs, creating room for mishaps such as sinkholes, caverning, or worse. In December 2016, an offshore oil rig located in the Caspian Sea collapsed due to 90 mile per hour winds, which caused pieces of the rig to break off and tumble into the sea. At least 1 person died in the incident, and 9 others were reported missing at the time of collapse. This not only demonstrates the instability of oil rigs, but it demonstrates the instability of the very platforms that support them.
In September of 2014, 36 year old Matt Smith went to work at the oil rig he helped maintain, when he realized a water line had frozen due to the sub zero temperatures. Smith and his coworkers went to thaw the line with a blowtorch when the line spontaneously exploded, spraying out water at over 20 times the pressure of a fire hose. 2 of Smith’s coworkers were seriously injured, and were rushed to the hospital. Smith, taking the brunt of the blast, had the right half of his face torn off, and died.
The company he worked for, Halliburton Co. was fined $7000, an infinitesimal sum for the multi-billion dollar company. Smith’s family were blocked by worker’s compensation laws, and were unable to sue for punitive damages. A later investigation found that the worksite operator failed to file a report about the water line, which resulted in Smith’s death. No further fines were levied. If this is not a gruesome reminder of the lives that fracking takes, nothing is.
Not only is fracking taking human lives, but it is also taking the lives of countless animals. Fracking, and oil rigging in general destroys ecosystems, wiping out animals homes, and killing animals and plants in the process. In fact, it is not at all uncommon for an entire area to be deforested, or for land formations and icebergs to be destroyed to make room for new fracking rigs. As more oil rigs appear both on and off land, fish, birds, and mammals die from pollution, sickness, or getting caught in machinery. The ongoing oil rush in the arctic ocean has many experts up in arms about the insane risks of oil drilling operations in the arctic.
According to Charles Emerson of Lloyd’s of London, pursuing fracking rig construction in the Arctic could have massive implications, all of which negatively affect the animals that live there. The disruption of migration patterns of currently endangered species of whales, caribous, and other animals is extremely likely, and could drive species to the point of extinction. The only way to end this is to stop the spread of fracking.
A direct result of fracking is destruction of pieces of major tectonic plates through class II disposal wells, which are used to dispose of dangerous and toxic brine. A class II disposal well is a deep well that is filled with toxic brine, which does considerable damage to the earth’s crust. Another form of class II well is called an Enhanced Recovery Well, which is the main cause of tectonic plate damage. Oil moguls continue to fatten their wallets with this dangerous process, all the while turning a blind eye to the destruction they are causing. In Oklahoma, a popular area for fracking, the number of earthquakes have increased from close to 0, all the way to over 1000 every year. On average, Oklahoma experiences 2 to 5 earthquakes every day.
The most powerful earthquake last year was in Oklahoma’s capital, measuring at 5.8 on the richter scale. It caused major infrastructure damage to numerous buildings in Oklahoma, and even ended up killing 6 people. Considering the fact that fracking is moving toward the arctic, this increase in seismic activity is even more dangerous than expected. The density of the crust is considerably thinner on the ocean floor, and especially so in the arctic, making fracking in the arctic ocean a recipe for earthquakes. Offshore earthquakes are considerably more dangerous than continental earthquakes, due to offshore earthquakes creating massive tidal waves, and can often result in enormous storms. In addition to seismic activity, arctic fracking would cause sea-ice to be broken, making shipping routes considerably more dangerous, and also risking the structural integrity of the oil rigs themselves.
Fracking is not the only way for nations to obtain energy. There are multiple different processes that can effectively create energy, and produce as much, if not more energy as the oil obtained from fracking. Geothermal energy is an excellent way of obtaining energy. It harnesses the earth’s natural heat and energy to create usable energy. Similarly, there is hydroelectric energy, which harnesses moving water to turn turbines, producing efficient and fast energy. Placing these in our oceans, and harnessing the power of the tides is an excellent way to create clean, safe and affordable energy. Finally, there is wind energy, which can use the power of coastal winds to produce large amounts of energy. Clearly there are many alternatives to oil based power, which could completely eradicate the need for fracking.
In terms of efficiency, one of the most powerful forms of energy is nuclear energy, which is obtained through nuclear fission. According to Forbes Magazine, one large nuclear power plant can generate enough energy in one day, to power the city of las vegas for almost 2 weeks. Not only is this process safer than fracking, but is exponentially more efficient in terms of energy and infinitely safer to our precious environment.
Even if fracking is an enormous industry, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed. Legally, if a petition receives over 100,000 signatures, the addressed company is required to issue a response. Starting with extremely simple processes, we can help to end fracking, forcing oil companies to stop these harmful processes. These simple things can be anything from signing a petition, to purchasing solar panels. Investing in up and coming renewable energy businesses and projects is a great way to help move the clean energy industry forward, and help slowly convert our energy reliance from oil, to renewable resources. It may sound cliche to say that we need to “Save the animals”, but animals are an extremely important part of the human ecosystem, providing us with necessary natural processes like fertilization, food, and pollination. The end of fracking means a safer, more reliable future not just for us, but for humans yet to come.