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Response to anti-fracking environmental arguments: It’s a matter of proportion and dilution

By Tom Glendinning
Posted Sunday, July 10, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - The Chatham County Online Bulletin Board Service has a detailed, high quality debate on fracking issues. Several issues are discussed following the announcement of the NC Cooperative Extension Service program on gas right leasing options. Event will start at 6:30pm on July 19, 2011 at the Chatham County Agricultural Extension Center in Pittsboro. It should be worthwhile.

Instead of focusing on solutions to problems, the universal environmental cry has evolved into one word - "NO!"

The main argument against leasing and drilling is the generation of pollutants, some carcinogenic, in the fluids used to produce gas by flooding the well. These wells are proposed to be 3000 feet
or more below the surface in south Chatham and north Lee counties. Wells average 400 feet. That difference is 2600 feet buffer of compacted solid rock and soil which is good protection. A website containing URL’s to research papers on VOC’s and Toxic Substance Hydrology Program of the USGS is

The fluids which are removed from the wells and stored above ground in containment ponds with liners are subject to environmental effects on the pollutants. See an article measuring the disappearance of 70 % of chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOC’s) in surface phytoremediation by plant cover on a surface distribution site. Basically, exposure to sunlight, air and plant absorption reduce these elements naturally in high percentages. So, the .5 % of pollutants or well fluid additives in fracking fluid may be reduced to .15 % by natural treatment. - Natural Attenuation of Chlorinated Volatile Organic Compounds in Ground Water at Operable Unit 1, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Division Keyport, Washington

Subsurface fracking fluids present another challenge. Not exposed to sunlight and air, they are degraded by bacteria below ground. Several articles expose this phenomenon on the website above. One article describes the dissipation of CVOC’s and BTEX and pollutants by bacterial action. - Application of Molecular Methods in Microbial Ecology to Understand the Natural Attenuation of Chlorinated Solvents - What Controls the Migration of Chlorinated Solvents in Fractured Rock?

The total database of articles on research of the fate of CVOC’s and pollutants found in the .5 % of hydrofracking fluid has over one hundred articles on the subject. The government is working on the problem and the environmental effects are not as disastrous as depicted by chicken little. In this case, the threat from hydrofracking fluids appears to be minimal. - Improving Cleanup of Contamination from Oil and Gas Production

The argument that any pollutants should be banned from use is an extremist view.

The government, as unpopular as it has become, with as much loss of credibility as it has suffered, is still doing its job in many categories. Scientific research on environmental issues, drinking water supplies, pollutants, mitigation and public health is dependable and extensive.

The argument that any pollutants should be banned from use is an extremist view. That argument has caused environmental groups a severe loss of respect in the public eye. What credibility was earned from the 1960's to the 1990's has been eroded by these extremist statements. Instead of focusing on solutions to problems, the universal environmental cry has evolved into one word - "NO!".

It provides little room for workable ideas, facts, solutions and compromises.

Decide based on evidence, not rumor. What solution has the highest amount of common sense and believable facts?

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