Delhi might have shifted to CNG in one big leap but it is still to be seen if it was a jump towards the future or will it eventually become a stumbling block in its growth. There is a raging debate about the long term side effects of drilling and mass production of CNG. We hope this issue will not be put on the back burner, till it becomes a do or die situation, like many other environmental issues clouding our nation’s space. Have a look at all the things you were never told about use of CNG.
In the recent past it has been found that it was more economical to drill a well horizontally, compared to the earlier vertical drilling concept. The area of exposure is larger in this kind of a well. In this method of drilling fractures are placed along the location and the method is executed by the ‘plug and perf’ method, using sleeves. However, after continuous years of drilling in this manner, there is now evidence of groundwater contamination, and serious damage to the environment. Oil companies are keener on horizontal wells, as 30 stages can be achieved by this single well, which was not possible in a vertical one. However, they pollute the air, bring chemicals to the surface, raise the level of CO2 and cause serious damage to quality of ground water.
Fracking in very simple terms is drilling to release the methane gas trapped in rock formations. An intricate network of vertical shafts that are interconnected with horizontal shafts is drilled in to the ground. Now, enormous quantities of sand, water and chemicals are forced into these shafts to fracture the rock and release the gas. It seems like a convenient replacement for carbon fuels and will eventually replace coal in all power stations. The problem is the method of extraction, in which harmful chemicals like benzene, toluene, naphthalene, and xylene, are pumped into to the ground to push the gas to the surface. This liquid can never be completely removed from the soil.
We are still studying the effect of fracking on the groundwater. However, it is confirmed that a faulty well or a spill over can contaminate the ground water resources. The pit of the wells even if lined pose a serious health threat to the people of that neighborhood, the fumes that are let off are harmful to humans and animals. The fracking liquid is combined with the sole purpose of keeping the pipes unclogged at any cost. These chemicals come back to the surface through back flows or well blow outs and leak into the environment. They contaminate the water and cannot be removed easily.
Fracking causes emission of harmful gases like methane, greenhouse gases and other organic compounds in the environment. Studies have confirmed that these gases are also contributing to harmful changes in the environment. Laws should be made wherein each operator should be liable to submit a report on the annual release of toxins in the environment.
The water which is used in fracking contains metals, radioactive materials and other harmful dissolved solids. Most of our municipal water treatment plants are not designed to remove this contamination. It should be the onus of the well operator to ensure proper recycling of this water only after proper treatment. In certain areas it was found that deep injection wells used for disposal of this water, had created unnecessary seismic activity in that area.
The operators today are not disclosing publicly about chemicals used in fracking activities. We need a law that makes it mandatory to maintain records at all times and all figures should be available online for all to see.