HYDRAULIC FRACTURING (FRACKING) AND THE WATER SUPPLY
A recent study by scientists working at the University of Texas found that there was not a significant link between the fracking process and drinking water contamination.
A review of evidence on three cases of impurities in water supposedly caused by fracking in American shale beds found that the process itself was not the cause of the contamination. The study found that there was not enough evidence to draw firm conlusions, but pointed out that the main problems with the process occurred in all types of oil and gas drilling. Spillage of waste water at the surface posed a greater threat to groundwater than the fracking process itself.
Fracking involves injecting water and certain chemicals into shale beds at high pressure and collecting the gas which is displaced.
The industry view seems to be that the process poses no more threat to the environment than other forms of drilling for gas or oil.
There are significant reserves of gas shale in a band under the Pennines from Lancashire to Humberside, and further deposits in Hampshire, Sussex, Kent, south Wales, central Scotland and Northern Ireland. The deposits are large enough to supply a significant fraction of our energy for the foreseeable future.
Fracking is a relatively new technology, and there is not yet enough evidence to make authoritative statements about its impact on the environment. The other possible problems are: 1) earth movement, 2) atmospheric pollution.
Further studies will follow to see whether or not fracking releases significant air pollution or triggers seismic activity.