Fracking Research: Peer-Reviewed Published Studies & Independent Expert Opinions

Prof Avner Vengosh, Duke University presenting at Mangatu Marae, Whatatutu. Feb 2012

Environmental implications of hydraulic fracturing and shale gas drilling in the United States. A presentation by Prof. Avner Vengosh, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University at Gisborne District Council, 27 February 2012.

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Presentations from the National Science Foundation workshop at Duke University (January 9, 2011): Environmental and Social Implications of Hydraulic Fracturing and Gas Drilling in the United States: An Integrative Workshop for the Evaluation of the State of Science and Policy:  http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/hydrofrackingworkshop2012/workshop

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Key Risks Fracking Briefing (discussion paper collating peer reviewed evidence prepared by Anglican Diocese of Canterbury, March 2012)

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1,200 pages of fracking-related documents compiled as part of an investigation by The New York Times over nine months including confidential state and federal agencies reports documenting problems and negative environmental impacts associated with energy extraction activities, particularly drilling for oil and gas:  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/02/27/us/natural-gas-documents-1.html#document/p1/a9895

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Standford Professor Dr. Mark Zoback article in Earth magazine (April 2012): “Managing the Seismic Risk Proposed by Wastewater Disposal”.

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Evidence fracking caused the massive mud volcano in Indonesia that has since wiped out villages and farmland, displacing 30,000 people:

“The eruption demonstrates that mud volcanoes can be initiated by fracture propagation through significant thicknesses of overburden and shows that the mud and fluid need not have previously coexisted, but can be “mixed” within unlithified sedimentary strata.”

http://www.geosociety.org/gsatoday/archive/17/2/pdf/i1052-5173-17-2-4.pdf

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The Council of Scientific Society Presidents—which represents 1.4 million scientists from more than 150 scientific disciplines – reported to the Obama administration in May 2010, “some energy bridges that are currently encouraged in the transition from GHG-emitting fossil energy systems have received inadequate scientific analysis before implementation, and these may have greater GHG emissions and environmental costs than often appreciated.” The development of unconventional gas from shale deposits, the Council warns, is an “example where policy has preceded adequate scientific study.”

http://tiny.cc/uweez

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The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (a partnership between Cambridge University, Oxford University and seven other universities) found heavy CO2 emissions are linked back to the engine-powered fracking process, including the blending of fracturing chemicals and sand that are pumped from storage, and the high- pressure compression, injection and recovery of materials into and out of the well.

http://tiny.cc/g1ui5

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Dr. Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University, a hydraulic fracturing expert, claims unconventional wells have a greater total length than conventional wells, due to their lateral extensions underground. This greater total length means that unconventional gas wells require more and heavier drilling equipment, longer drilling time, higher probability of drilling problems, and more venting during drilling. In addition, these longer wells require more and heavier fracking equipment, more stages and volume per stage, more plugs and longer drill-out periods. Also significant, these large-scale drilling operations produce more flowback waste and produced water, which in turn means higher volumes of waste for longer periods and more venting and flaring of gas.

http://tiny.cc/b92w8

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Gas extraction underwent a significant technological transformation in the 1990s, when operators began using a technique developed for oil extraction: horizontal drilling.

http://tiny.cc/n2x8a

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With the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling into a new technique known as High Volume Slickwater Hydraulic Fracturing, the overall scope of gas extraction has transformed, calling for unprecedented amounts of water, chemical additives and drilling pressure. Hydraulic fracturing experts like Dr. Anthony Ingraffea consider current gas drilling “a relatively new combined technology.” Although industry likes to characterize the process as successfully proven for over six decades “what they fail to say is that they’ve had fewer than 10 years of experience on a large scale using these unconventional methods to develop gas from shale…”

http://tiny.cc/yjj9a

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Chemical additives are used in the primary
stages of drilling and in the fluids prepared for
the fracking process. Drilling muds or slurries
are a mixture of chemicals and fluids used to facilitate boring. Although fracturing fluids are more commonly known to contain chemicals linked to cancer, organ damage, nervous system disorders and birth defects, drilling muds or slurries
can contain a number of the same chemical constituents used in fracturing fluids.

http://tiny.cc/uweezhttp://63.134.196.109/documents/RiskAssessmentNaturalGasExtraction.pdf

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An estimated 30% to 70% of the fracking fluid initially remains underground, although more of the contaminated fluid continues to surface for the life of the well, up to 20 or 30 years.

http://tiny.cc/cb801http://tiny.cc/yjj9a

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It is well documented that some chemicals employed in fracturing and drilling, as well as unearthed substances in flowback water, are known to cause cancer, birth defects and nervous system disorders.

http://tiny.cc/1tnzuhttp://tiny.cc/uweezhttp://63.134.196.109/documents/RiskAssessmentNaturalGasExtraction.pdf

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“Even if you adopt industry’s definition of hydraulic fracturing (thus excluding incidents from drilling damage, failed well casings, spills, erosion and sedimentation, or tanker accidents), there is now evidence…that the isolated process of hydraulic fracturing has been responsible for water contamination.” – Dr. Ronald Bishop. February 23, 2011.

http://tiny.cc/vayim

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How water contamination occurs due to gas drilling operations can at times be difficult to determine, although the growing number of documented cases point to a variety of contamination sources.

http://tiny.cc/9lyvp

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An internal document from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection outlines over 60 instances of water contamination and fugitive methane migration from drilling operations, many of which were due to unexpected pockets of underground pressure, the failure to contain well pressure, faulty production casing, or the accidental drilling into other abandoned or producing wells.

http://tiny.cc/ku3po

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Wastewater disposal through underground injection has recently been connected to a scourge of over 800 earthquakes in Guy, Arkansas. Geologists from the American Geological Survey report that a “direct correlation” can be seen between the quakes and wastewater injection disposal sites.

http://tiny.cc/njclxhttp://tiny.cc/6cblw

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Regions which are “seismically active or intensively fissured pose greater risks for contamination than regions which are geologically stable.” – Dr. Ronald Bishop. February 23, 2011.

http://tiny.cc/vayim

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An upswing in earthquakes in areas experiencing drilling has recently become cause for additional concern. After drilling began in Cleburne, Texas, the town experienced more earthquakes in eight months than in the previous 30 years combined.

http://tiny.cc/lhxs9

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High-pressure fluid injection has the potential to activate faults, a concern for Jack Century of J.R. Century Petroleum Consultants Ltd., who cautions “when we start perturbing the system by changing fluid pressure, we have the potential for activating faults,” adding, “once local seismicity starts, it can’t be turned off.” Most of the earthquakes experienced in these areas are relatively small, but pose a threat to cement casings, the only measure in place to protect drinking water from gas wells and underground disposal sites.

http://tiny.cc/omp1p

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The European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers provides a large body of peer-reviewed literature on the level of risk of damage inducing earthquakes caused by fracking.

http://tiny.cc/5y7pn

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In August 2011 the US Geological Survey released a preliminary report establishing a link between fracking and earthquakes. The report is still under peer review.

http://tiny.cc/k30o9http://tiny.cc/taqvk

Various other peer-reviewed empirical studies are being published on a regular basis over the past two years raising concerns about fracking as a cause of serious problems.

http://tiny.cc/m3gn2http://tiny.cc/awfea

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In November 2011, Cuadrilla Resources, a British energy company, admitted that its hydraulic fracturing operations were likely to have caused a spate of earthquakes near Lancashire. The practice has been suspended pending a review by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

http://tiny.cc/zxhcx

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In December 2011, a study by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into hydraulic fracturing reported finding a host of chemicals in the groundwater around fracked wells in Wyoming state. These included petroleum hydrocarbons such as benzene, and tert-butyl alcohol, a fuel additive, which is among the more than 500 chemicals that are typically mixed with sand and water and blasted into shale to fracture the rock and release the gas.

http://tiny.cc/e04uw

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In addition to complete bans and moratoria in places like France, Switzerland, New Jersey, South Africa, New South Wales, New York State and a number of counties in the USA, local authorities in County Clare, Donegal, Sligo Roscommon & Leitrim in Ireland have all resolved to not allow fracking. Bulgaria has also banned fracking in the last month.

http://tiny.cc/p68iu / http://tiny.cc/k1bqr / http://tiny.cc/asr5p / http://tiny.cc/6r017

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