What critical information do the anti-fracking illustrations leave out?

Check out the previous illustrations of fracking I’ve mentioned here and here.

Then go search for illustrations that are critical of fracking. Ask yourself what critical information is missing.

I was going to link to specific examples, but there are so many it is hard to choose. Also, pointing out flagrant omissions and clever distortions from people’s videos tends to get them irritated.  I’m not interested in a flame war.

There seem to be two common problems.

First – Look at the vertical distance between the fracking and the water table. A frequent technique is to show the fracking starting immediately below the water level. That would put the trapped oil at the 100’ or 500’ level.

Actually, the oil layer is 5,000’ or 7,000’ feet down and is only 60’ or 100’ thick. Water tables are usually 100’ or 500’ below the surface.  That means there are thousands of feet of rock between the water and horizontal lateral run. Those rocks are dense and provide thousands of feet of buffer. The illustrations typically leave that out part of the story.

Second – One particular video clearly showed and said the well goes immediately from drilling to fracking.  Multiple other illustrations show oil leaking directly from the well into the water table. Almost as if there wasn’t any casing or piping at all.

What’s left out of the story?

A 16” pipe that runs from the surface to below the water level and the concrete that is put in place on the outside of that pipe. An intermediate pipe that goes down 2,000’ and the concrete put in place outside it.  Then a 5½” pipe that goes all the way to the bottom and concrete that is put in place outside it. Pressure testing to find out if there are leaks in the layers of pipe and concrete.

From the surface to below the water level, there’s three layers of concrete and pipe. Down to about 2,000’ there’s two layers of concrete and pipe. All the way to the end of the well there’s one layer of concrete and pipe.

You may think differently, but from my perspective leaving out that volume of key information invalidates a lot of videos.

Other things I noticed –

One very entertaining video very clearly said the well is drilled and then the coal seamed is fracked. I’m not a mining engineer, but I’m reasonably certain you will not get a lot of coal flowing up a 5” pipe.  The viscosity of coal is, um, rather low, shall we say.  That video also showed the fracking immediately below the water table.

One illustration had a lot of ‘click here for more details’ buttons on the illustration. Those buttons declare all the sources of contamination. The fine print in those buttons said that research was in process to determine how contaminants get into the ground water.  I guess that means that the contamination vector is not currently known.  I’m sure there are leaks somewhere sometime, it’s just that the people warning us about them don’t know how or where the leaks are taking place.

Put on your thinking cap when you watch a video or illustration that show how horrible fracking is for the environment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *