UK Scientific Review: Fracking is Safe

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    Jul 13, 2012 2:18 PM GMT
    Great news for those who are concerned about the environment as natural gas results in far fewer CO2 emissions and the level of new energy about to flood the market means energy costs will go down for everyone. Not so good for extremists.

    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-fracking-undertaken-safely-effective.html

    The review examined the scientific and engineering evidence relating to the environmental and health and safety risks associated with the onshore extraction of shale gas. Findings that led to the conclusion that the practice could be undertaken safely include:

    • Hydraulic fracturing is an established technology that has been used by the oil and gas industries for many decades in the UK;

    • The risks of contamination of aquifers from fractures is very low provided that shale gas extraction takes place at depths of many hundreds of metres;

    • Seismicity (or earth tremors) induced by hydraulic fracturing is likely to be of a smaller magnitude than the UK naturally experiences or than is related to coal mining activities, which are, of themselves, low by world standards;

    • Open ponds for storing wastewater (which have been historically used in US fracking operations and carry a possible risk of leakage) are not permitted in the UK and there are numerous facilities in the UK for the treatment of similar wastes from the industrial sector;

    Well established procedures have been developed for the disposal of naturally occurring radioactive materials (which are present in the hydraulic fracturing wastewaters) by the UK's extractive industries.

    A particular cause for concern is that that poor cementation and casing failures of wells could lead to leakages and wider environmental contamination, as they have in some cases in the US. Therefore, the review concludes that the priority must be to ensure the integrity of every well throughout its lifetime.
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    Jul 13, 2012 2:30 PM GMT
    There is nothing conclusive in that report. It uses words like "very low" and "likely" "possibly." That is not conclusive terminology. That's feel-good words to get their way.

    I still think fracking is dangerous and poses a seismic risk if it's too close to a fault line.
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    Jul 13, 2012 2:30 PM GMT
    Let's just go ahead and blow up the planet and be done with it.
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    Jul 13, 2012 2:33 PM GMT
    If Riddler had his way, fracking would be legal in everyone's backyard....oil companies could drill and dump whenever/whatever they like, and chemical companies would would be allowed to dump toxic waste as much as they want. People like this don't deserve to breath oxygen. If I saw this nasty piece of shit on fire I wouldn't even piss on him.
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    Jul 13, 2012 2:37 PM GMT
    Scruffypup saidIf Riddler had his way, fracking would be legal in everyone's backyard....oil companies could drill and dump whenever/whatever they like, and chemical companies would would be allowed to dump toxic waste as much as they want. People like this don't deserve to breath oxygen. If I saw this nasty piece of shit on fire I wouldn't even piss on him.


    Are you that desperate for attention? It's surprising you have enough brain activity to breathe. Despite your idiocy the environment has been getting cleaner, people have been living longer lives and much of this is attributable to the same companies you villify. I don't suppose you are some obscure bureaucrat in government? Or are you some other type of leech off society and the backs of others?
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    Jul 13, 2012 5:13 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Scruffypup saidIf Riddler had his way, fracking would be legal in everyone's backyard....oil companies could drill and dump whenever/whatever they like, and chemical companies would would be allowed to dump toxic waste as much as they want. People like this don't deserve to breath oxygen. If I saw this nasty piece of shit on fire I wouldn't even piss on him.


    Are you that desperate for attention? It's surprising you have enough brain activity to breathe. Despite your idiocy the environment has been getting cleaner, people have been living longer lives and much of this is attributable to the same companies you villify. I don't suppose you are some obscure bureaucrat in government? Or are you some other type of leech off society and the backs of others?



    I leech from no one asshole. I work hard and support myself AND I'm a Progressive who sees the importance of paying my share of taxes (unlike you). And I'm not the predictable scum who posts the same tired Right-Wing half truths over and over again. All I have to do is glance at the thread topic and I know you created it before even looking at the author. It's lunch time....shouldn't you be feeding off of Rush Limbaugh's feces?
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    Jul 13, 2012 5:15 PM GMT
    so, um, what do you say to people who can light the "water" coming from their faucets on fire? come to pennsylvania and peddle this shit. no one is fooled when they live miles away from a fracking site and can't drink their own well water anymore.

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    Jul 13, 2012 5:36 PM GMT
    "not so good for extremists" lol

    Somebody is so gullible its crazy
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    Jul 13, 2012 7:54 PM GMT
    There are legitimate concerns voiced by people who have been exposed to fracking - water quality has been impacted in measurable ways.

    We should also keep in mind that local populations can be somewhat hysterical with respect to NIMBYism, as well.

    Looking at this in a more clinical fashion, what the report suggests is that the regulatory standards being used in the UK are preventing contamination. That is a good thing, and one would imagine that importing those standards would be a good idea. In particular I like the idea of preventing open air pools, which are just stupid.

    Anyway, I don't quite see reason to talk about people being lit on fire, et cetera. You, every day, use oil from unconventional sources. Unconventional oil makes up the majority of the world's reserves, and is growing in use. Until such time as you think civilization will agree to not progress, you're fighting a losing battle.

    Renewable sources, because of their significant infrastructure overhead (wind farms require extensive power conditioning equipment and increased system storage, for example), can only comprise a certain percentage of a stable electrical system. Most experts seem to think 30% before you need to seriously revamp the entire energy infrastructure. Geothermal is an exception, however even that technology has a catch, because there is only one method for expanding geothermal beyond natural vents. Enhanced geothermal, which is the creation of artificial geothermal vents, uses the same fracking technologies you so hate.

    Your best bet is to encourage the use of nuclear power. Recent, experimental reactor designs (like the transverse wave reactor) are slated to use concentrated fast neutrons to make even waste isotopes fissionable. Current designs for Generaton III+ reactors are being approved, and one pre-fab design by Westinghouse called the AP1000 has been engineered to incredible tolerances. You could literally fly a plane into it without breach of containment. Our nuclear policy is outdated and irrational, has stifled research that would solve our waste issues, and forces us to engage in fuel extraction that already produces significant radioactive byproduct (as well as flammable well water).

    Adults look at their realistic options and start advocating for those that carry the least risk for the greatest reward.
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    Jul 13, 2012 8:03 PM GMT
    principal0 saidUntil such time as you think civilization will agree to not progress, you're fighting a losing battle..


    Thats probably what they thought in the Roman empire before most of that plunged into the more primitive Middle Ages...

    Or what they thought in Persia before that one was sacked by the Arabs...

    Or what the Mayans may have been thinking before their cities were abandoned...

    Or the Easter Island people thought when they chopped down their last tree and were trapped there.

    Or perhaps what they thought in Harappa and Mohenjo Daro before desertification left their cities in ruins

    what goes up must come down eh?
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    Jul 13, 2012 8:09 PM GMT
    Nothing new or remarkable there.

    But since when do facts have any impact on hysteria?

    And yes, I have tested hundreds of samples from wells that people think have been ruined by fracking. Some of them are pretty bad water, but they were bad to begin with. No evidence at all that there is any external cause.

    Also, for every gas well, there are hundreds of poorly-constructed water wells that are pretty much unregulated. Toward the end of the housing boom they were going in all over the countryside, as fast as they could be drilled. Put in a hundred new houses, draw down the fresh aquifer, maybe saltier stuff infiltrates where in never used to. It happens every day. Some of the people screaming the loudest probably caused the problem themselves.
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    Jul 13, 2012 8:26 PM GMT
    GreenHopper said
    principal0 saidUntil such time as you think civilization will agree to not progress, you're fighting a losing battle..


    Thats probably what they thought in the Roman empire before most of that plunged into the more primitive Middle Ages...

    Or what they thought in Persia before that one was sacked by the Arabs...

    Or what the Mayans may have been thinking before their cities were abandoned...

    Or the Easter Island people thought when they chopped down their last tree and were trapped there.

    Or perhaps what they thought in Harappa and Mohenjo Daro before desertification left their cities in ruins

    what goes up must come down eh?


    There are civilizations that have faced environmental disaster. But I think technologically we're past a much bigger range of disasters than we used to be. This is a matter of optimization - pick a power mix that lessens impact. We're already doing that, slowly. The sooner we become realists, the better a job we can do at it.
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    Jul 13, 2012 8:51 PM GMT
    principal0Renewable sources, because of their significant infrastructure overhead (wind farms require extensive power conditioning equipment and increased system storage, for example), can only comprise a certain percentage of a stable electrical system. Most experts seem to think 30% before you need to seriously revamp the entire energy infrastructure. Geothermal is an exception, however even that technology has a catch, because there is only one method for expanding geothermal beyond natural vents. Enhanced geothermal, which is the creation of artificial geothermal vents, uses the same fracking technologies you so hate.

    Your best bet is to encourage the use of nuclear power. Recent, experimental reactor designs (like the transverse wave reactor) are slated to use concentrated fast neutrons to make even waste isotopes fissionable. Current designs for Generaton III+ reactors are being approved, and one pre-fab design by Westinghouse called the AP1000 has been engineered to incredible tolerances. You could literally fly a plane into it without breach of containment. Our nuclear policy is outdated and irrational, has stifled research that would solve our waste issues, and forces us to engage in fuel extraction that already produces significant radioactive byproduct (as well as flammable well water).


    Out of curiosity, what do these experts say about Wave technology? We have miles upon miles of coastline, including but not limited to the Pacific ocean, the gulf, the Atlantic and maybe even the great lakes.

    But in regards to fracking, we studied the issue in my civil engineering class and the ethics behind it, and overall I agree with paulflexes, in that it's dangerous, especially near a fault line.
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    Jul 13, 2012 9:05 PM GMT
    Scruffypup said
    riddler78 said
    Scruffypup saidIf Riddler had his way, fracking would be legal in everyone's backyard....oil companies could drill and dump whenever/whatever they like, and chemical companies would would be allowed to dump toxic waste as much as they want. People like this don't deserve to breath oxygen. If I saw this nasty piece of shit on fire I wouldn't even piss on him.


    Are you that desperate for attention? It's surprising you have enough brain activity to breathe. Despite your idiocy the environment has been getting cleaner, people have been living longer lives and much of this is attributable to the same companies you villify. I don't suppose you are some obscure bureaucrat in government? Or are you some other type of leech off society and the backs of others?



    I leech from no one asshole. I work hard and support myself AND I'm a Progressive who sees the importance of paying my share of taxes (unlike you). And I'm not the predictable scum who posts the same tired Right-Wing half truths over and over again. All I have to do is glance at the thread topic and I know you created it before even looking at the author. It's lunch time....shouldn't you be feeding off of Rush Limbaugh's feces?


    You know if you could string together an argument that approached coherence instead of your wild personal attacks, someone might actually believe you.
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    Jul 13, 2012 9:06 PM GMT
    homastj saidso, um, what do you say to people who can light the "water" coming from their faucets on fire? come to pennsylvania and peddle this shit. no one is fooled when they live miles away from a fracking site and can't drink their own well water anymore.



    It's important to note that the report shows that mistakes have been made in the US that they highlight but that they also note that these can be avoided and controlled which makes the practice safe.
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    Jul 13, 2012 9:07 PM GMT
    principal0 said
    GreenHopper said
    principal0 saidUntil such time as you think civilization will agree to not progress, you're fighting a losing battle..


    Thats probably what they thought in the Roman empire before most of that plunged into the more primitive Middle Ages...

    Or what they thought in Persia before that one was sacked by the Arabs...

    Or what the Mayans may have been thinking before their cities were abandoned...

    Or the Easter Island people thought when they chopped down their last tree and were trapped there.

    Or perhaps what they thought in Harappa and Mohenjo Daro before desertification left their cities in ruins

    what goes up must come down eh?


    There are civilizations that have faced environmental disaster. But I think technologically we're past a much bigger range of disasters than we used to be. This is a matter of optimization - pick a power mix that lessens impact. We're already doing that, slowly. The sooner we become realists, the better a job we can do at it.


    Hmm, I think thats being far more optimistic about technology than I think is realistic... to say that we're passed a bigger range of disasters....

    Especially since several of the above were man-made disasters.. and we're in one now
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    Jul 13, 2012 9:14 PM GMT
    principal0 said
    GreenHopper said
    principal0 saidUntil such time as you think civilization will agree to not progress, you're fighting a losing battle..


    Thats probably what they thought in the Roman empire before most of that plunged into the more primitive Middle Ages...

    Or what they thought in Persia before that one was sacked by the Arabs...

    Or what the Mayans may have been thinking before their cities were abandoned...

    Or the Easter Island people thought when they chopped down their last tree and were trapped there.

    Or perhaps what they thought in Harappa and Mohenjo Daro before desertification left their cities in ruins

    what goes up must come down eh?


    There are civilizations that have faced environmental disaster. But I think technologically we're past a much bigger range of disasters than we used to be. This is a matter of optimization - pick a power mix that lessens impact. We're already doing that, slowly. The sooner we become realists, the better a job we can do at it.


    To add to this, the people who are gullible here are those like greenhopper who openly believes in astrology. But nevertheless, each one of the environmental disasters can be easily dissected away from the theses proposed by Jared Diamond who he presumably pulled them from.

    For starters, the example that most of his acolytes bring up is Easter Island that has recently been thoroughly debunked:
    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/09/the-myth-of-easter-islands-ecocide/

    There are legitimate concerns I think but to think that they require the level of hysteria that he proposes is I think is not only counter productive but wrong.
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    Jul 13, 2012 9:50 PM GMT
    Saying that we have technologically advanced past a much bigger range of disasters shows a lack of understanding about the fragility of and the interconnectedness of our technologies. Also you apparently haven't lived through one to realize how easily technology fails in a disaster. I have lived through several hurricanes and a tornado. I assure you, the system breaks down quickly and is put back together slowly.

    Designing better system is vital, but it must be understood that human beings always become complacent, careless, and don't pay attention at some point.
    As long as human nature is what it is, there will be weakness, flaws, and mistakes.
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    Jul 13, 2012 9:57 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    For starters, the example that most of his acolytes bring up is Easter Island that has recently been thoroughly debunked:
    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/09/the-myth-of-easter-islands-ecocide/

    There are legitimate concerns I think but to think that they require the level of hysteria that he proposes is I think is not only counter productive but wrong.


    I'm no environmental freak, but I wouldn't think the Easter Island link is particularly helpful even if it were relevant. Quote: "whilst human arrival on the island did indeed lead to near-total deforestation." It was only the previously thought timeline that was wrong, people still fucked up the ecosystem.

    Anyway, jury is still out on fracking. Enough that we should be very cautious. Some genies can't be put back in the bottle.
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    Jul 13, 2012 11:50 PM GMT
    scholargrowingmuscle saidSaying that we have technologically advanced past a much bigger range of disasters shows a lack of understanding about the fragility of and the interconnectedness of our technologies. Also you apparently haven't lived through one to realize how easily technology fails in a disaster. I have lived through several hurricanes and a tornado. I assure you, the system breaks down quickly and is put back together slowly.

    Designing better system is vital, but it must be understood that human beings always become complacent, careless, and don't pay attention at some point.
    As long as human nature is what it is, there will be weakness, flaws, and mistakes.


    To claim that we have not advanced beyond a wider range of disasters than we experienced in, say the 1820s, is absurd. Ask Thomas Malthus. He anticipated a crisis predicated on population growth that never arrived - because of technological change. Where the hell is famine in the industrialized world? It's nonexistent. You don't have to fear outbreaks of polio, which leave children permanently crippled. Your life expectancy is significantly greater than any of your ancestors.

    Read the damn Bible - one of the few ways in which it is instructional is by pointing out that people used to be terrified of swarms of bugs. Seriously. We live like Gods compared to them.

    Even with hurricanes and tornadoes, do you have any idea how many fewer people face loss of life than used to? We have weather services to predict when they occur, cars and airplanes to carry us from hurricanes at the least. And the rebuilding of infrastructure is swifter than it used to be when people had, you know, random little towns out in the middle of nowhere. It isn't put back together slowly at all - that you perceive it to be slow because it takes a week to fully restore power to a city hit by a hurricane is more a metric of your privilege than reality.

    The problem is that current disaster is always visible, while the disasters that you get to avoid because of technology aren't quite so noticeable. But really, the claim that we are capable of withstanding a broader range of disasters than previously is prima facie obvious.
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    Jul 13, 2012 11:53 PM GMT
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  • metta

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    Jul 14, 2012 12:02 AM GMT
    This is also an issue in California. We are already due for a major earthquake, I don't think we need anything that may help push it along.

    I don't know from experience but I have spoken to customers on the East Coast that have told me that they have had a lot of problems since they have been doing fracking.
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    Jul 14, 2012 12:04 AM GMT
    Texas invented it icon_smile.gif
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    Jul 14, 2012 12:21 AM GMT
    Bullwinklemoos said
    principal0Renewable sources, because of their significant infrastructure overhead (wind farms require extensive power conditioning equipment and increased system storage, for example), can only comprise a certain percentage of a stable electrical system. Most experts seem to think 30% before you need to seriously revamp the entire energy infrastructure. Geothermal is an exception, however even that technology has a catch, because there is only one method for expanding geothermal beyond natural vents. Enhanced geothermal, which is the creation of artificial geothermal vents, uses the same fracking technologies you so hate.

    Your best bet is to encourage the use of nuclear power. Recent, experimental reactor designs (like the transverse wave reactor) are slated to use concentrated fast neutrons to make even waste isotopes fissionable. Current designs for Generaton III+ reactors are being approved, and one pre-fab design by Westinghouse called the AP1000 has been engineered to incredible tolerances. You could literally fly a plane into it without breach of containment. Our nuclear policy is outdated and irrational, has stifled research that would solve our waste issues, and forces us to engage in fuel extraction that already produces significant radioactive byproduct (as well as flammable well water).


    Out of curiosity, what do these experts say about Wave technology? We have miles upon miles of coastline, including but not limited to the Pacific ocean, the gulf, the Atlantic and maybe even the great lakes.

    But in regards to fracking, we studied the issue in my civil engineering class and the ethics behind it, and overall I agree with paulflexes, in that it's dangerous, especially near a fault line.


    Wave power is currently not viable. I have looked at a variety of companies trying to prove out the concept, but so far not much to write home about. And depending upon the technology, the environmental impact can be non-negligible.

    Wind power also has impact - I bought an art piece that depicts a windmill and Sandhill cranes migrating along by it because it was a great reminder that every technology has its impact. You simply have to determine the risk profile and the rewards garnered, and create an optimized portfolio of options.

    So that being said, of course fracking has its dangers. And we should strive to mitigate those dangers, as has been successfully done in the UK. However at the end of the day we need to power our cars, and that Indian on the highway can bawl his eyes out for all I care. So let's instead think about how we can provide for our energy and materials needs in the safest manner that meets the demands of reason.

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    Jul 14, 2012 12:33 AM GMT
    Snoop_Dawg_Cranky said
    principal0 said

    Even with hurricanes and tornadoes, do you have any idea how many fewer people face loss of life than used to? We have weather services to predict when they occur, cars and airplanes to carry us from hurricanes at the least. And the rebuilding of infrastructure is swifter than it used to be when people had, you know, random little towns out in the middle of nowhere. It isn't put back together slowly at all - that you perceive it to be slow because it takes a week to fully restore power to a city hit by a hurricane is more a metric of your privilege than reality.

    The problem is that current disaster is always visible, while the disasters that you get to avoid because of technology aren't quite so noticeable. But really, the claim that we are capable of withstanding a broader range of disasters than previously is prima facie obvious.

    Um, yes and no. Can we survive hotter temperatures? The affluent can, surely, with greater air-conditioning, etc. But no amount of money will keep the ocean from rising and obliterating low-lying coastal areas. The entirety of Florida may well vanish by 2090 or so. Parts of Norfolk, Virginia are already underwater.


    There are already very realistic geoengineering concepts that could potentially eliminate the issue. Manipulating cloud reflectivity is a big one. Those sorts of things just might save our collective asses while we figure out that Green Peace is actually the ultimate enemy of environmentalism.