Hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”) and horizontal drilling technologies that have been used in the extraction of natural gases have proven to be controversial over the past years. In large part, this is because some states do not maintain the legal infrastructure suitable or prepared to accommodate these particular technologies. In 2012, the North Carolina General Assembly legalized fracking and horizontal drilling by passing Session Law 2012-143, the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act. Although fracking has been legalized, no company can drill unless it first obtains a permit from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. Consequentially, North Carolina recently discovered a natural gas reservoir which creates a lot of issues and points out many deficiencies in the state’s laws that address the environmental and public health concerns concerning the impacts on the water supply.
North Carolina’s Environmental Law Guide § 9.08 defines fracking as the process of obtaining natural gas from underground, porous caverns. Natural gas is often located in underground pores and generally flows easily because of the interconnected nature of those pores, like those of a sponge. These pores are called conventional gas reservoirs. Unconventional gas reservoirs, on the other hand, lack the needed permeability to let gas flow. In order to create pores, fracking companies shoot pressurized water solutions into the rock to break it up so that gas may flow up through the cracks and be collected.
Although Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to ensure that fracking activities comply with federal laws, such as Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and others, fracking can still be harmful and very dangerous in various different ways. Among other things, fracking can be dangerous to the people who do it, it can ruin water wells, damage roads, homes, produce excessive noise, dust, and flares. The real risk is the contamination of the groundwater and air, as well as the contamination of the surface caused by the moving of the gases and chemicals, or potential ground surface contamination caused by the spill of chemicals used in fracking operations.
The fracking industry, as well as the oil and gas industry, attempts to create a misunderstanding of the chemicals used in the fracking fluid. More specifically, they state that only 0.5% and 2.0% of the total fracking fluid is made up by chemicals. Looking at those percentages, people may think that is an insignificant amount. However, fracking operations require an enormous amount of water, millions of gallons, thus the amount of chemicals per fracking operations turn out to be very large. For example, consider a two (2) million-gallon fracturing operation. That same operation would use from 40 to 160 tons of chemicals. Companies attempt to avoid disclosure of all of the used chemicals, alleging that information is a business secret, therefore leaving people wondering what all types of additives were used. Even though those fracking fluid components have historically been regarded as trade secrets, in some cases, scientists and environmental advocates were able to determine used chemicals contained in the liquid used in fracking.
Many of those fracturing fluids are known to be extremely toxic. Exposure to toxic chemicals used in fracking operations can cause tremendous harm to humans. Some of the common health problem associated with fracking are:
These are not the only dangers and health problems that can be caused by fracking. Some more serious health conditions, such as cancer or neurological problems, may take years to develop after exposure.
If you or your loved one have experienced injuries related to fracking, contact the attorneys at Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC, you may be entitled to compensation. The initial consultation is free of charge.