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5 Fracking Consequences You’ve Never Heard About

Lisa Garber
February 27th, 2013
Updated 05/08/2014 at 6:07 pm
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oilpum 265x165 5 Fracking Consequences You’ve Never Heard AboutWe know fracking isn’t exactly the safest of practices. We’ve heard of its propensity to pollute our air and drinking water and thereby raise human health concerns. The media, however, isn’t talking about the massive sinkholes pockmarking the nation, the radiation leaks, and other lesser known but no less earth-shattering effects of fracking.

Here are 5 other consequences of fracking you may not have heard of until now.

1. Methane-Spewing Geysers

Fracking is the act of pumping water and chemicals underground in order to facilitate the flow of oil or gas.

It’s not terribly hard for a giant corporation like Shell or Chesapeake Energy Corporation to start fracking wherever the company pleases (check out the next factoid for more on that). Regulators don’t even require drilling companies to search the area for abandoned wells. This is why unplugged, forgotten wells—like Butters well in Pennsylvania’s Tioga County, drilled in 1932 —literally burst with gas when drilling displaces underground pockets of methane. As it turns out, Shell knew about Butters well—just not if it was plugged.

Abandoned wells aren’t the only ways disrupted gas escapes. Cracks in the ground can also emit this highly flammable gas.

2. Your Land is my Land

One Chesapeake employee was recorded saying, “If properties don’t want to sign, if we have 90 percent secured of the well that we need, we have the power to put these people in the lease without their permission.  …  We can do whatever we want.”

Chesapeake and other drilling corporations are eager to spend billions to snag drilling rights. They do the math and it’s no wonder states follow suit.

Reuters reports:

“In its petition, Chesapeake told regulators its proposed drilling unit could produce 4.5 million barrels of oil and 3.5 billion cubic feet and natural gas—if the plots of the 49 land owners who didn’t lease their property to Chesapeake were included. If not, Chesapeake said, the unit would be 75 percent less productive and would miss out on an additional $71 million in revenue, according to its application. That math carried the day.”

3. Milk Production Dips

If water is contaminated, so too will be crops…and livestock. Despite the compensation given to farmers for leasing their land to fracking companies, dairy farmers may be doing themselves a considerable disfavor. According to university researchers, milk production decreased by 19 percent in Pennsylvania’s counties with 150 or more Marcellus Shale wells compared to a 1.2 percent decrease in counties with no wells.

Related Read: 8 Dangerous Chemicals Used in Fracking

4. Contaminated Wine

Fracking-derived groundwater pollution doesn’t just mean contaminated drinking water (although that’s a concern enough that the EPA has finally admitted it). Dirty water means dirty crops, and even dirty wine.

Simon Salinas, a member of Monterey County’s Board of Supervisors, says in response to Venoco’s prospective drilling in the vineyard-rich county, “Anything that can taint our water and food supply could be devastating to our economy.” It doesn’t help that Monterey already competes with Napa and Sonoma wine, and proximity to fracking activity would do nothing for the region’s marketability.

One winery in Brooklyn, NY, even hosted an anti-fracking benefit. “Many of our wine bar’s seasonal menu items include ingredients grown on upstate farms,” the winery’s web site read.

5. Contaminated Food, Stillborn Calves and Poisoned Animals

Not even the all-American burger (grassfed or not) is sacred from the dangers of fracking. Fracking fluid consumption killed 16 cows in Louisiana, and hundreds of others raised near fracking sites are being reported affected. When 28 beef cattle in Pennsylvania were exposed to fracking fluid recently, 8 of 11 calves birthed thereafter were stillborn.

Many doctors are protesting fracking, and direct contamination via the air and water mustn’t be the only considered contributors to fracking-related cancers. We are what we eat, after all, and fracking as of yet seems to be little more than just another inventive way to slowly poison the earth and ourselves. The greater problem lying in energy consumption, however, will make resolution difficult.

Where do you stand?

Additional Sources:


Food and Water Watch


From around the web:

  • Michael Hartley

    In the UK I think that people with their names in the Land Registry should be consulted first and a referendum could be conducted accordingly.
    YES or NO to fracking in the UK.

  • R L


    The water used for all the fracture treatments in the USA is probably averages at something less than 40 million gallons per day. I am willing to research destroyed fresh water supplies. Do you have data, not spectulation, on such destruction. Please just look at, it really is an attempt towards transparency.

  • ClaudeA

    I do not appreciate the tone of this article. The author is not objective but very excited and unable to control emotional grandiose. If fracking is what the article says, then fracking must end. Period. –But. fracking or not, America is a nation resting on its wastes, not its laurels. Instead of conservation this nation of fools gobbles down more pollution and spews more lethal earth-destroying wastes every years, in the name of "progress." –The nation reminds me of the mob insanity phenomena seen in some bovine species, where a large heard suddenly becomes suicidal and dashes to its death over a high cliff! –America is 300,000,000+ people doing exactly the same thing!

  • shale skeptic
    • R L


      • ClaudeA

        RL, I've read the article and the comments here. The article is heavily slanted political hype in appearance. One comment besides yours makes me wonder, though. The comment includes the solution ingredients used in fracking. "formalehyde, radium, butoxyethanol, ethylene glycol, glycol ethers, sodium hydroxide, methanol, acetic acid, benzene." –Please, tell me are these uses? –If so, what is the "brine" used as road deicer composed of? –Waste, deadly toxic fluoride in our potable water is polluting the ground streams and oceans destroying humans, animals, fish and soil fauna like nothing before, is both the "brine" and ingredients in fracking ops good, or not, to the only place humans have to live?

        • R L


          The primary ingredients used in a fracture treatment are water, sand and Guar bean gum. The water is fresh from surface lakes, creeks and rivers and brackish water from wells. The water is treated and reused and finally disposed of in disposal wells. Some escapes to the environment. The’flow back’ water is the deleterious substance. The hazard to surface and well fresh water is this water that may escape the surface pit though a leaking liner or breach. The water and that is in the well could only reach fresh water through a well failure and I’m sure we would be aware of that.
          The sand that is called ‘crystaline silica’ is common sand just rounder than play sand and beach sand. Handling any dry sand is hazardous if you breath the dust.
          Guar gum is vegatable gum commonly used in commercial ice cream and other mostly food products. It works like corn starch to give viscosity.
          More on the minor constituents in my next reply.

          • R L

            The fracture ingredients that are low in volume are sodium hydroxide or lye like drain cleaner, not sulphuric acid but hydrochloric acud like used in swimming pools. These are used to adjust the pH of the water. I doubt that benzene is used as it is a known carcinogen. It is silly that they say that radium is used as it is a tightly controlled substance and would have no useful purpose.
            The people that approch any environmental problem in such an idiotic way do more harm than good.
            I agree that the problem is conservation. We need to leave as much of these resources for future generations as possible. The people that gripe about fracture treatments are the same as those that complain about high gasoline prices and try to light the night sky. The power that keeps their computers on so they can gripe about fracture treatments is in part a product of those treatments.

            • Cindy

              You really need to wise up. I have heard that over 600 chemicals are used in fracking and the oil co. don't have to disclose what they are! How else do,you explain the devastation that fracking causes? There is nothing, nothing good about fracking!! Go to foodandwaterwatch .org and get informed!

              • R L

                Do you drive a car. Do you use electricity. Do you use plastics.
                Do you eat food. Without fracturing our way of life would be greatly curtailed.

                • Cindy

                  I do eat food and drink water! Over 300 million gallons of water is used in each fracking well. Do we really have that much water in America to waste? I don't think so! Fracking is destroying our fresh water supply. You know that! And please send me to a website that isn't run by oil companies and lobbyists which is! Do your research RL!
                  BAN FRACKING NOW!

              • R L


                • R L

         is a site where industry reports the exact chemicals that were used in any of 39,000 recent wells and most all new wells. They also explain how to identify chemicals by name or cas number.

            • R L

              The brine that is used as a deicer by cities and states is a solution of salts. Table salt is the most common but in really cold temperatures, calcium chloride, the salt that is added to bottled drinking for taste and to make it more healthy, is added. Other salts are also used but brine from oil or gas wells are rarely used. The brine from wells would be ok if it is free of oil, it is the water that little fishes were swimming around in in an ancient sea.

  • R L

    Paisley M called me a 'shill' even though I stated my involvement in hundreds of fracture treatments. Paisley should consult a dictionary before calling names. For the record I am a consulting petroleum engineer.

    Alan refers to 'Gasland' and Guest refers to 'There Will Be Blood.' Do a little scientific research.

  • Guest

    The movie "There Will Be Blood" shows how things haven't changed despite half a century's passing. It's about when oil companies moved into California and took what they wanted, ruining the land, the culture and the lives of the people who lived there. It also shows what happens to those who hold out, refusing to sign their coerced "agreement". Watch it sometime. Sometime soon.

  • Paisley M

    Sink holes, anyone?

  • Paisley M

    RL is a shill. He makes his money and frack the rest of you. Despicable, like the whole lot that is raping the Earth and fracking everyone over for a dirty, bloody buck.

  • Red State

    What an ignorant article, followed by even more ignorant comments. A cabin that shakes to pieces from drilling two miles away? What a joke. None of you know the first thing about any of this.

  • Alan

    Hey R.L.,did you see the dvd "GASLANDS" ??

    • Anonymous

      I did. If you make a movie to attack fracture treatments then you most likely will put every negative aspect in the movie. To increase the sensationalism you might stretch the truth.

      Fracturing has been going on for many decades, why are these scary things just now coming to light.

    • Mother Earth

      RL must work for Halliburton. Our best hope is to have local governments ban both the process and the"Brine" that they spread on the roads. They don't tell you about destroying the local streams and rivers, both with pollution and pumping them dry in order to get their water needed to mix with the formalehyde, radium, butoxyethanol, ethylene glycol, glycol ethers, sodium hydroxide, methanol, acetic acid, benzene…., well you get the idea…THAT all goes back into YOUR water supply. The reason they have come up with spraying the "Brine" onto the streets as a de-icer is because the water has become so poluted that local water purification plants can not deal with it and it goes unfiltered into the streams, lakes and rivers as run-off.

      • EarlyMan

        SOLAR POWER ROOFTOPS TO THE PEOPLE IS 50% OF GERMAN ELECTRICITY. free. safe. done. why not America we have sun up there forever too. BECAUSE OF PACS, politicians are paid off to not think smart and not help americans. the 1% of Americans who own 40% of ALL americas wealth already.. want more!

  • C. Koch

    America is doomed, fracking will destroy it!

  • Daniel Beck

    These creatures that call themselves men need to be disburse for this planet. First comment guy, your an idiot. Do us all a favor and don’t reproduce. Politicians and greedy scum bags like comment number one guy need to think just a little more before they open their filthy f’in pie holes. Common sense inst so common anymore and idiots rule the world. Anyone coming on to my property can mine their own skull for lead. I swear the population gets a little more stupid with each passing second. DO YOU WANT TO DRINK PETRO???????

  • R L

    I witnessed my first fracture treatment in January 1970 and I have been involved in hundreds of 'frac jobs' to this date. Any industrial process of any size has some local affect but I have witnessed very little serious or lasting damage. The claims being made are outlandish and cloud the understanding and debate to the point of making the naysayers look like kooks. All activities that affect the environment should be scrutinized closely but fairly without all of the unfounded claims.

  • raw food gal

    I can atest to these practices. I own land in Arkansas and was forced to sign the mineral rights lease for gas pumping from under my property. The wells are very close to my cabin – one is merely 1/4 mile away, but the drilling 2 miles to the east caused the entire structure to vibrate and lose its integrity – the building is no longer safe to be in for the fear of falling on our heads. If something this visible happened, can you imagine what was done to the "underneath"? And Arkansas used to call itself the natural state. Not after fish dying in the river and birds falling from the sky… all of which happened after the drilling started…