Jun 26, 2012

Fracking Debate Rattles On

Elizabeth Lisican

The topic of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” continues to dominate headlines. It’s safe to say it has gained momentum, as numerous associations, including the National Ground Water Assn. and Intelligence Squared U.S., are devoting events to exploring the scientific and technical issues surrounding fracking.

To add to the fervor, more reports about fracking’s possible effects have surfaced.

For instance, fracking has a low risk of triggering earthquakes, experts have reported in recent months. There is a higher risk of seismic events when wastewater from fracking is injected back into the ground, however, according to a report by the National Research Council. On the other hand, out of about 30,000 disposal wells nationwide, only a handful of noticeable tremors have been reported, engineers and scientists concluded, according to a CNN.com article.

Drinking water contamination concerns also are on the rise. The National Research Council study did not address water quality in relation to fracking.

To delve deeper into that issue, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed a panel to investigate allegations that fracking might contaminate groundwater supplies. New York City gets about half of its water from the Delaware River Basin—a major fracking area. Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently signed legisation toughening the state’s fracking requirements.

We will stay tuned for more updates on the fracking front. Meanwhile, in this issue of iWWD, we explore unique applications in food processing, mining and more. As always, be sure to e-mail me with comments.

About the author

Elizabeth Lisican is managing editor of Water & Wastes Digest. Lisican can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1012.