Friday, March 11, 2011

Fracking Will Cause 'Irreversible Harm': Shale-Gas Extraction After-Affects Will Threaten Drinking Water, Could Jeopardize Agriculture, Expert Says--Montreal Gazette

By Kevin Dougherty
March 4, 2011

QUEBEC - A geological engineering professor whose specialty is rock mechanics and hydrogeology says hydraulic fracturing to free natural gas from shale rock formations will cause "irreversible harm" lasting thousands of years.

And the gas companies will be long gone, leaving behind costly remediation, Marc Durand said in an interview, suggesting the gas producers should be forced to establish a reserve fund.

"The billions required would be much more than all the profits beckoning now," said the retired Université du Québec à Montréal professor.

The circulating gas left behind will threaten the water Quebecers drink and could jeopardize agriculture, he said. The Utica shale field gas deposits between Montreal and Quebec City lie under some of the best farmland in the province.

"Fracking" is the technique of pumping a mixture of water, sand and a cocktail of toxic chemicals under pressure into wells drilled horizontally to liberate the gas from the shale.

But Durand noted that fracking gets out only 20 per cent of the gas, a figure confirmed by Canada's National Energy Board.

After maybe eight years of production, the gas companies will seal - and forget - the wells, Durand said.

The rock formations shattered by fracking will be "thousands of times more permeable," allowing the remaining 80 per cent of shale gas and underground water, 10 times more salty than sea water, to continue circulating, bubbling to the surface through the disused gas wells.

Over time, methane could leak into the groundwater and gas leaks could gush, uncontrolled, into the air...continued....