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Fracking, almost onomatopoeic word to indicate an extraction technique used for both oil and natural gas that comes from America brings a lot of damage. Both at the environmental level, water, air and land, and at the level of conflicts of interest which, when it comes to oil, is never lacking. The fracking is a much discussed technology for extracting oil, all over the world, in Italy it is called hydraulic fracturing but the situation does not change and the environmental risks remain significant.
The English term is rather cryptic but it is certainly not a "painless" extraction technique. It was put into practice for the first time in America in 1947 from the Halliburton company and over the years it has been refined, especially in the state of Texas, certainly not the only one where it is applied.
The fracking is based on the idea of exploiting the pressure of liquids to create real fractures in the ground.
This sort of gash that we manage to open in rocky strata deeper are cracks similar to those that may also be present in nature. But when we create them, we do it in a studied and instrumental way, so as to arrive at oil fields located in precise points underground.
Create the slits with the pressure of liquids, with methods that we will see better, then they are enlarged always using fluids, water in this case, under pressure. To keep these accesses to oil open, however, sand, gravel and ceramic granules are needed.
Translated, the fracking sounds like "hydraulic fracturing", alternatively you can also use the English name in our country, known to those who work in the sector, or always in English, the word "hydrofracking" which reminds us how water is one of the protagonists of the method. In fact, treated water, together with other substances, is what is used to release the oil, or gas, depending on which is located in deposits "embedded" in the rock underground. We aim for a quick and complete recovery, without getting too many problems, unfortunately, as regards the consequences of this technique.
One of the two cases in which the fracking is mostly used, is the extraction of oil. We proceed in stages, starting from the drilling with which to create a well by drilling at a depth of about 3,000 meters and then cover the channel created with a concrete pipe.
This step is used because, with the tube, you then have the opportunity to get to the exact points where you can then blow up explosive charges of modest size in order to create holes for the oil that you knew was found in the ground to pass. Pumping liquids, added by chemicals and sand, with a rate of up to 16 thousand liters under pressure per minute, it is possible to create large "fractures", cracks underground, in rocks, which allow oil to hover, or in natural gas if we are looking for this raw material.
Despite they are before the eyes of all the damage related to a technique such as fracking, oil companies always try to reassure public opinion by supporting and promoting the reliability of this technique.
We talked about oil, and natural gas, so even if we are not experts in the sector, it does not take long to understand that the economic interests at stake are many. Fracking has opened a global debate and has a global impact, not just in the areas where it is “physically” applied.
The idea of banning this technique has often been addressed but it is clear that there are those who are ready to make war on anti-fracking in order to continue earning.
To date, fracking in Europe is prohibited by law in many countries but not in all and there are some states where studies are underway to test and use the technique despite the very strong environmental risk, perhaps with the idea of trying to achieve energy self-sufficiency, becoming independent from Arab oil and Russian gas.
Till now we talked about an important environmental impact and serious damage without going into specifics, but without a shadow of a doubt stating that the technique we are talking about is invasive, dangerous and devastating and involves risks for humans and the environment.
With fracking you have the contamination of groundwater, of the air and the ground due to the mixtures of chemical agents and polluting substances which are used to create cracks in the ground, as we have seen, and for the subsequent stages where it waterproofs and tries to keep the rocks open.
From the analyzes carried out on fluids for the mechanical cracking, the clear presence of carcinogens and highly toxic agents emerged including the well-known naphthalene, benzene, toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene, lead, diesel, formadeldeide, sulfuric acid, thiourea, benzyl chloride, nitrilotriacetic acid, acrylamide, propylene oxide, ethylene oxide, acetaldehyde, di-2-ethylhexyl, phthalates.
There are also some radioactive substances such as isotopes of chromium, cobalt, iodine, zirconium, potassium, lanthanium, rubidium, scandium, iridium, krypton, zinc, xenon, manganese. It is not surprising that the hypothesis is that there is a correlation with the occurrence of many cases of kidney and respiratory diseases, but also of liver diseases, tumors and asthma. In addition to polluting the ground, the fracking also manages to contaminate the air, directly, since it involves the release of vapors rich in benzene and toulene.
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