Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a method of extracting natural gas from beneath the earth’s surface. Fracking refers to high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand to fracture rock formations so that natural gas can escape and be collected. Although hydraulic fracturing has been used effectively by drilling companies to capture natural gas, environmentalists are now claiming this process might be very dangerous. Environmentalists now fear the chemicals from fracking are contaminating underground water supplies and increasing health risks.
FRACKING & WASTEWATER DISPOSAL PROCESSES
To start, oil and gas companies mix and pressurize massive amounts of water, sand, and chemicals, then inject them deep underground. The injected mixture strikes targeted subsurface rock formations with enough force to split them open. This releases trapped deposits of oil and natural gas, which the companies then extract, refine, and sell. This drilling technique is called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Generally, fracking generates huge volumes of wastewater known as “flowback” and “produced water.” This fluid may contain the injected chemicals and naturally occurring materials such as brines, metals, radionuclides, and hydrocarbons. To dispose of the wastewater, some companies use high pressure to inject the wastewater into deep wells, known as injection wells. These injection wells typically are far below where the oil and gas reserves are located and near fault lines. Unfortunately, injecting wastewater into the ground destabilizes the earth beneath your town and your property, particularly along fault lines.
FRACKING + WATER CONTAMINATION
In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tied contamination in drinking water to hydraulic fracturing. A controversial issue regarding fracking is the use of chemical compounds that are rarely disclosed during inspections. However, through research, it has been found that diesel fuel is a component of the fracking mixture. Unfortunately, diesel fuel has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other health risks. The fear is that the chemicals from the fracking process are left behind and run off into underground water supplies.
FRACKING + PROPERTY DAMAGE
It doesn’t take a large earthquake to cause damage to your home, business, or commercial building. Even mild tremors can do harm, especially if they happen often. Human-induced earthquakes are causing significant property damage. Yet, the oil and gas industry continues its wastewater injection operations without being held accountable. The structures most vulnerable to quake damage caused by wastewater injection are those that lack adequate reinforcement. However, in some instances, even well-reinforced structures can be damaged.
Many businesses also have suffered economic losses due to having their business interrupted from earthquakes and accompanying damage. Some victims have even sustained personal injuries from falling debris during earthquakes. Such disasters can also take away the sense of safety a person is supposed to feel in his or her own home. There is also a risk of infrastructure being damaged and causing catastrophic environmental disaster. An oil tank farm in Cushing, Oklahoma, for example, is one of the largest oil storage facilities in the world. Earthquakes can cause these tanks and underground piping to rupture, spilling toxic substances into the air and water.
DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT INJURIES RELATED TO HYDRAULIC FRACTURING?
The damages that can result from water contamination can be both physically and emotionally daunting. When you have your future on the line, you cannot afford to put your trust in inexperienced legal counsel. Instead, you need to seek the guidance of attorneys who have extensive experience and resources to either reach a favorable settlement or win your case at trial. We have done both on behalf of our clients on numerous occasions. At Fulmer Sill, we are proud to deliver high-quality assistance to all of our clients. Should you choose to seek our legal representation, we are confident that our experience and knowledge will produce a favorable outcome for you. If you or a loved one has been a victim of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing, we encourage you to consult with our team as soon as possible. All initial consultations are free, and we don’t charge any up-front fees for representation. We handle all fees on a contingency basis, meaning that unless we’re successful, you don’t have to pay us. Please contact us at (405)510.0077 for a free consultation or request a case review here.