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Wicked Environmental Problems - Research Paper Example

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The Negative Impacts of Hydro-Fracking
Hydro-fracking, also referred to as hydraulic fracturing, is the process of using many gallons of water mixed with sand and many chemicals to fracture shale rock, which is found many feet below the surface of the earth. …
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Wicked Environmental Problems
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Download file to see previous pages This mixture of water, sand, and chemicals will hold the fractures open and let the gas trapped inside seep back through the drilled holes to the surface. This process has the problem of the quantity of water and chemicals used. The process has its benefits in the clean fuel and economic growth. This paper will explain the negative impacts of the process and why the negative impacts are difficult to manage. Negative Environmental Impact Drilling in Allegany county of Marcellus Shale seems like a brilliant idea and an excellent opportunity that many people seek to explore. There are many flaws, however, associated with this renowned energy source. This paper only discusses the proven and documented problems. First, the focus is on the many gallons of water that will be utilized in the process. In the drilling process, to retrieve the gas, approximately four million gallons of water are required (Campbell and Laherrere 79). This water is harnessed form the nearby rivers and streams and is used until the whole process is completed. Some may say that this volume of water is insignificant compared to the average water from the municipal council that is used on a daily basis (Campbell and Laherrere 83). The water from the municipal council is used in homes and institutions, whereas the water used in the drilling process is said to be a consumptive water loss; this water does not return to the water cycle, and most of it remains deep in the ground for many years. Regulation measures should be provided to ensure that the demand for water is not as high as to debilitate the local waterways (Olsthoorn and Anna 23). Water is just one of the many ingredients of the drilling process. The second alarming concern lies in the many chemicals that are used for the effective retrieval of the gas and to hold open the cracks in the earth. These chemicals include benzene, kerosene, hydraulic acid neurotoxins, and many other dangerous chemicals (Harvey 90). For each drilling process, more than 15,000 gallons of these harmful chemicals are used. The chemicals are transported via large trucks to the drilling site where they are mixed with water. The procedure of mixing the two is risky – if a spill occurs even in small scale, the great concentration of the chemicals will have many devastating effects on human health and the environment. Small scale spills are a common occurrence and collectively these small spills have a large cumulative impact (Harvey 96). Handling and treatment of the waste water that is generated is the other problem that is associated with the drilling process. The current municipal water treatment facilities are not equipped to handle the chemicals (Marion 44). Proper treatment of the waste water is an expensive process, and, in most cases, the water is left to sit in man-made ponds, which pose significant threat to the human population in the area due to potential leaks and the wild animals that may wander into the exposed chemical ponds. Such infractions have been witnessed in the drilling processes in Pennsylvania (Marion 28). Environmentalists have claimed that the process of hydro-fracking is an extremely detrimental to the water supply and natural habitat. The process has become controversial and has received a lot of debate in the recent years (Cunningham and Mary 34). A significant amount of forestland loss and surface damage should be available for an area to undergo the process of hydro-fracking. The effect is elevated when there are multiple drill sits and an increased number of access roads. The environmentalists have argued that the process causes earthquakes and many explosions above the ground and is responsible for draining stream water, which is a precious resource in many places (Cunningham and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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