Impacts of Fracking and Literature Review

Impacts of Fracking

Air pollution

•  Diesel fumes, dust, noise.
•  Emissions from wells – petroleum products – Benzene, Toluene, Xylene (BTEX) highly toxic.
•  Sand used during fracking causes silica dust, cause of silicosis in workers.
•  All wells leak over time, causing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Water contamination

• Thousands of tons of chemicals and sand are used during fracking.
• Many of these frack fluid chemicals are toxic, e.g. concentrated acids, bleaches and detergents, formaldehyde and other biocides.
• 40% or more of the millions of gallons of frack fluids used come back to the surface. This “flowback” contains heavy metals (chromium, lead), radioactive elements (Radium, Uranium), salt (up to 30%) and BTEX petroleum products. There is NO acceptable disposal route for toxic flowback liquids in Ireland.
• Accidents happen – spillages, vehicle accidents, leakages from tanks, ponds etc. Streams, rivers, lakes become contaminated.
Underground leakages happen. Methane gas can contaminate aquifers supplying domestic water (tap water on fire). Frack fluids can also leak into drinking water supplies, 243 recorded instances of water contamination in Pennsylvania.

Health impacts

• Health impacts in general attributed to toxic emissions from well sites situated near houses include cancers (e.g., leukaemia), respiratory and dermal diseases.
• Workers have increased risk of silicosis from the sand used.
• Other impacts include cardiovascular, renal, immune system, mental health, injuries, endocrine disrupters that can impact future generations as well as mothers and babies.
• Communities are also impacted – sudden influx of outsiders, crime, stress, mental illness, splits between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

Jobs and Economic Boom?

Yes, there would be jobs associated with the industry, especially in the initial phase. However, most would not be local – teams of experienced workers are brought in by the industry to do specialised jobs. Local jobs are mostly confined to non-specialist labour and construction. Such jobs are temporary. Long-term maintenance jobs are few – maybe three per 24 wells.
Gas produced locally would NOT result in cheaper bills for local people, any more than Scottish oil resulted in cheap oil for Scotland. The gas would go into the international grid and sold at market prices.
Royalties would be paid to central government on profits after development costs, etc. These would not be more than could be generated from alternative energy sources, e.g. solar, wind, water.

Literature review of impacts

This section includes some of the most important scientific, peer-reviewed reports and articles published about fracking.  Although not fully comprehensive, it tries to include the most significant publications world-wide during our campaigning period.