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Discussion > Fracking is safe?

Please read these two papers.

The first describes emissions from oil and gas wells.

The second describes increased incidence of health problems among those living within 1km of oil or gas wells.

For the less technically inclined reviews are here and here .

Having read these papers, which of you fracking enthusiasts are willing to have a fracking well within 1km of your house and family?

Nov 3, 2014 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Yes, fracking is safe.

The first report isn't even taken taken seriously by the authors themselves:

"Conclusion: While these results should be viewed as hypothesis generating..."

They should come back with larger, properly controlled, studies when they have finished flying alarmist kites.

The second:

"Name1, Name2, Name3, Name4, Name5, are employed by non-profit organizations whose mission is to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals."

At least they had the honesty to announce their confirmation bias early

I wasn't surprised to see that, as my initial thought was that the article read like it was written by a Greenpeace intern trying to raise alarm. I've no time for it right now. That is what the true purpose of peer review is, EM: It doesn't prove something right or wrong but helps people avoid wasting time.

We both know fracking and "traditional' drilling have been performed effectively now for many decades. A botched oil/gas well can leak in the same way as a cracked sewer. (Trace amounts of many of these chemicals can also come from other sources, and the samplers "Community-based monitoring" seem likely to be strongly biased in this instance. The language is certainly suggestive.) These are reasons for making sure that both are done properly, not a reason for banning the technology.

I've lived close to two nuclear power stations, and I would be just as happy to live just as close to oil/gas operations that were properly regulated. I would be much less willing to live near a windfarm development because of possible infrasound effects (and visual blight).

Nov 3, 2014 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I read your abstracts. I retain these two results: “Air concentrations of potentially dangerous compounds and chemical mixtures are frequently present near oil and gas production sites”: and: “People living near something considered as unhealthy were twice as likely to report health symptoms than those who didn't.”
There are laws to protect people whose health is threatened by things in their environment, and I wish well to the citizens of Washington County.
You ask:

which of you fracking enthusiasts are willing to have a fracking well within 1km of your house and family?
Well, I'd rather not. Nor would I want a poultry farm or an airport, however much I might enjoy a roast turkey or a cheap flight to Stansted. But we all have to live, and cheap energy has its costs. If the billions of euros currently channelled towards persuading governments to enact inapplicable laws to reduce carbon emissions were redirected to the reducing the health risks of the citizens of Washington County, we'd all be better off, wouldn't we? That's how politics has worked for a couple of centuries.

Nov 3, 2014 at 10:00 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I agree with you, it should be noted that no human endeavour is totally risk free.

If I had to, then given the choice, I think I'd rather have half a dozen modern well concealed gas well heads than half a dozen visible. audible 500ft wind turbines in the next field. I'd prefer them to a field full of PV panels as well. I'd probably be happier in the long term (with gas wells) than with the bypass currently being constructed within a kilometre on the D951 but most of the inhabitants in the commune will feel differently about the new road. It will make getting baguettes easier so even for me there is a positive. Solar and wind have none.

Nov 4, 2014 at 8:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

"Having read these papers, which of you fracking enthusiasts are willing to have a fracking well within 1km of your house and family?"

Well there are many things that I am glad to have access to, to use their products and services, or to know that they are there but that I would not necessarily want within half a mile of my home.

Which of the following would EM happy for them to no longer exist?
Which of the following would EM be happy to have within 1km of his home and family?

- A supermarket
- A filling station
- A large hospital with 24 hour emergency service
- A railway line with high speed trains
- A motorway
- A sewage treatment plant
- A car factory
- A steel factory
- An oil refinery
- A coal mine
- A cement factory
- A quarry
- A brewery
- A nuclear power station
- A coal fired power station
- A gas fired power station
- A hospital for the criminally insane
- A prison for long term prisoners
- An army base

Nov 4, 2014 at 8:51 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

We've been here before know how big the compensation US courts pay to victims of harm. As Geoff says in all industry there is some level of risk, but it is worth paying for the good of humanity. So please list the occasions in all the years of fracking operations in the US where the courts have awarded damages to members of the public harmed by emissions from fracking wells

BTW are those reports about fracking wells specifically cos the way EM writes the title they seem like general oil and gas wells.

Yes I would live right on top of a fracking plant no problem.
I have lived in a place where long term living is harmful to life. But that was perfectly natural it was the desert and the sand dust can accumulate in your lungs.

Likewise other natural places can be often have significantly more health risks than western industrial zones.
I would bet I could say that for the whole of west Africa where malaria, and AIDS run rife
(Of course in areas where they are getting industry then there becomes money for hospitals etc. to impove the situation)

Nov 4, 2014 at 10:09 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Fracking since 1949, 1 million fracking wells in the US, if there were actual health problems they'd, if you'll excuse the phrase, have been well and truly flushed out be now. It's just environmentalists doing what they do, telling lies.

Nov 4, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Martin A
I spent 30 years happily living in Derby. Within a couple of miles we had

1. A rubbish incinerator, later including a recycling plant.
2. Rolls Royce and Associates Nuclear Reactor (Nuclear Subs for the use of) Facility
3. Severn Trent Sewage works
4. Albert Loom's scrap yard
5. British Celanese (Courtaulds)
6. An ambulance station.
7. A very large ASDA and not quite so large Sainsburys
8. A large gas storage facility
9. A bypass built about 10 years ago

We also had Elvaston Castle Park within walking distance. None of the above really caused be any issues or even impacted marginally on my life, occasional smells from 3 & 5 and noise from 9 was about it. Shortly after we left to live in France Severn-Trent built two wind turbines at the location of item 2. These can be seen for miles and certainly did have an impact visually. As they weren't working on our last visit to family I can't give you any other feedback.

In Entropic man's question from personal experience Shale Gas Extraction facilities aren't likely to cause any problems whereas Wind Turbines have an immediate impact.

Nov 4, 2014 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

SandyS - of course I was not implying that those things were intolerable to live near. For all I know, EM lives opposite a Tescos, near a motorway with a filling station 100 yds down the road and finds those things convenient and unobjectionable. But the impacts of one sort or another are nonzero and not necessarily less than those of a gas extraction facility. I'm interested in how he perceives these other things if he wishes to comment on that.

I lived for a while not far from Broadmoor. There was a regular system of alarm testing and just once or twice it went off in earnest. A bit creepy.

Another time not very far from Avonmouth where, at the time there was an RTZ smelter there - you were recommended not to each cabbages etc from your garden. There was also an ICI store there with a stock of 20,000 tons of ammonium nitrate.

Nov 4, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Entropic Man

Have a read here:

BBC story of a fracking site at Beckingham in Nottinghamshire - which is located next an RSPB site. The site has existed since the 1960's.

Nov 4, 2014 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Martin A
I should have said I was agreeing with your basic point. These days the first 5 items in my list would have people on the streets protesting if there was any chance of them being built in their current locations.

The only popular demonstration in the 30 years I lived in Derby were by people protesting at NYNEX laying fibre optic infrastructure which involved digging up pavements and a few gardens. It delayed our getting fast internet for about 18 months. Not even the wind turbines created as much controversy before installation. They created a bit of a stir after they were built and for standing idle for months, but that's another story.

Nov 4, 2014 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Geoff: "If the billions of euros currently channelled towards persuading governments to enact inapplicable laws to reduce carbon emissions were redirected to the reducing the health risks of the citizens of Washington County, we'd all be better off, wouldn't we?"

If I'm not mistaken, you and all here object strongly to subsidies being paid for wind and solar development. And yet, if I understand you correctly here, you are saying you'd like to use those billions to pay the very profitable oil and gas developers not to leak and spill their product, input chemicals and waste products on lands occupied by local people.

What did you have in mind? Paying them to do the job properly and cleanly - which they currently think is economically unjustifiable (else they'd be doing it)? Paying compensation to locals when the get sick (of course only if they can prove it was the oil & gas co.s fault)? Paying for the relocation of local populations away from the exploration?

So am I right that it is not subsidies you dislike per se, but the recipients? Oil and gas co.s are fine, eh?

Nov 4, 2014 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Raff: There's no need for subsidies, the cost of proper health/safety/environment protections will simply come out of the extraction company's profits. Well, that's the theory, anyway.

Nov 5, 2014 at 12:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerry Cain

Terry, so how do we "redirect" those billions into ensuring proper and safe practices? Do you mean with regulation? Do the regulations currently allow them to dump benzene in the air and frack fluid on the fields and roads etc and all we need is to write some rules? You know how the right loves rules and regulations. Or do you mean with enforcement, putting CEOs in jail if they break the rules? How does it work?

Nov 5, 2014 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

> If I'm not mistaken, you and all here object strongly to subsidies being paid for wind and solar development.

You _are_ mistaken.

What I object to isn't subsidy for wind and solar _development_ but the vastly overpriced continuous subsidy of the power _output_ that they are supposed to be generating.

Oil and gas companies might get tax breaks for oil field investigation, but they are taxed like buggery on their output, the complete opposite of solar and wind.

Nov 5, 2014 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Martin A on Nov 4, 2014 at 8:51 AM
"Which of the following would EM be happy to have within 1km of his home and family?
- An army base"

Which side would the Army be on?

Nov 5, 2014 at 8:19 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Robert Christopher

There was, until recently, an Army base 200 yards from my house, juat across the river at Lisnelly.

Which side were they on? Last I heard they were soldiers of the Queen.

Nov 21, 2014 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Fracking is safe?
Based upon the record, so far: a resounding YES! I would have a well-head in my own garden, especially if part of the rent was a feed of gas to my own home.

How frequently do you fill your car with fuel? Are you aware of the vapours that you will be inhaling as you do so? Would that knowledge stop you refilling your car?

As others have said so eloquently, there is little (if anything) that we do that has no risk attached; why get in such a lather about something that is of such obvious benefit to so many?

Terry Cain: please – do not feed the troll.

Nov 21, 2014 at 7:26 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent

Careful. Benzene in modern fuel mixes is carcinogenic.

I may disagree with what you say, but would prefer that you remain alive to say it.

Nov 21, 2014 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Benzene in modern fuel mixes is carcinogenic
Write out 100 times: The poison is in the dose.
When was the last time you heard of anyone dying from filling his petrol tank once a week? Of course if you want to sit with the kids in the local playground and sniff the stuff ...
As for the fairly inane comments that appear about fracking, thanks entirely to the lies and exaggerations that the Anti-Human League keep trotting out, where does one start?

Nov 21, 2014 at 9:05 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


EM: that is precisely what I was driving at (no pun intended). You bleat about all the “toxins” that have been (often erroneously) associated with fracking, yet ignore those that you encounter every day; not just benzene, but MTBE and mercaptans – and that is only with filling your car tank! Then there are the chemicals in the exhaust, after combustion – not of less than a gramme of vegetable matter in a cigarette, but of many kilogrammes that will be burned all around you, in everyday traffic. And you wish us to fear what might – just might, with no real evidence being provided – be associated with fracking.

I tire of discourse of this type; clock it down as another “win” to you.

Nov 21, 2014 at 10:09 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent

Don't count on a linear dose response to benzene.
There is evidence that the response is nonlinear at low doses.

Nov 21, 2014 at 11:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Fracking is it safe?
...If it isn't where are the bodies ?

...have they been hiding them for 20 years ?

Nov 22, 2014 at 12:04 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen


Start digging here .

Nov 22, 2014 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM. What do you think of the recent statement from the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC is formed by the national science academies of the EU Member States to enable them to collaborate with each other in providing independent science advice to European policy-makers.).
Their press release states:
"In a statement published today, the EU's National Science Academies conclude that there are no scientific or technical grounds to ban shale gas exploration or extraction using hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as 'fracking')."

The full statement is here:

Nov 22, 2014 at 10:31 PM | Registered Commentermikeh