Fact or Fiction #5 – There are over 500 dangerous chemicals in fracking fluid
The fifth part in our series in which Nick Grealy, of No Hot Air, tests the weight of some of the biggest arguments pitted against fracking.
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#5 – There are over 500 dangerous chemicals in fracking fluid
It probably isnâ€™t helping quench public worry that US companies currently are under no obligation to reveal the chemicals they use in their fracking fluid. On top of that, tests into early fracking operations revealed a high number of dangerous chemicals in the fluids used. But it is important to stress that fracking has come a long way in just a short number of years.
Nowadays, there are generally less than ten chemicals in fracking fluid. In the example of Cuadrilla Resources in the UK, they are only using three.
And of course, drillers have an incentive to use less fluid both on cost grounds and for environmental risk abatement. Actually, fracking fluid is over 99.85% water and sand. Fracking fluid serves to act as a proppant so that gas can flow into the well bore and to the surface. Chemicals are necessary to keep the process going. But chemicals are more expensive than water or sand, providing an incentive to use as little as possible.
Many of the chemicals are present in far greater concentrations under your sink in common household cleaners. A common chemical is also used in lipstick and contact lens solution (sorbic acid) or in plastic containers (polypropolene). One of the chemicals most often used in the highest concentration is hydrochloric acid, naturally occurring in stomach acid.
In Europe there will be 100% visibility of the contents of fracking fluid under a combination of local regulations and via the EU regulatory body the European Chemical Agency (ECHA),
Existing best practice in the USA is moving towards 100% transparency of fracking fluid via sites such as www.fracfocus.org. We can anticipate the similar visibility will be the norm in Europe.
This post is part of our series: 12 myths surrounding shale gas production, by Nick Grealy. Download the ebook here >