Recently, Frack Free Future put out a video about the effects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Western Australia. The video was presented by former politician Carmen Lawrence. You can watch the video here, but in short, it was inherently misleading, and quite factually incorrect. I provided some information, and asked Frack Free Future to issue a correction/apology, however haven’t heard a response.
Frankly, I’m not too surprised. I’ve said this before, but with a name like ‘Frack Free Future’, they have already played their hand. They are not interested in the science of the matter, they have already decided that they want a future without fracking regardless of what the science ever says about its safety and benefits.
I’ve copied my comments below for your reading pleasure. Watch the video first for full effect.
I don’t know the specifics of this operation, but this was so oversimplified as to be totally inaccurate and misrepresentative of gas extraction. This is disappointing by Prof Lawrence and Frack Free Future. I hope both consider apologising to the public. Here are some things to keep in mind:
* Minor – You don’t ‘mine’ for gas, saying that highlights misunderstanding. But we can let that slight mistake go.
* “This is how companies are intending to mine for gas” – Mining execs are not actively planning to release gas in to the water table.
* Quick geology lesson – Sedimentary rocks are made up of many layers. Some of these layers are permeable, meaning they have spaces that liquid and gas can flow through. Some of these layers are impermeable, meaning that fluid and gas can’t flow through.
The coal layers are permeable. They are covered by a layer of impermeable rock in between it and the watertable, which is another layer of permeable rock with water. It is because of this impermeable rock that we *don’t already have* gas flowing into the water table. So what you’re claiming is that something is going to happen to break meters of impermeable rock. I will now say why that is baseless.
* In about 10% of coal seam gas wells (not 100% like people love to claim) the coal undergoes hydraulic fracturing, which is the pumping of water and some other chemicals (recall that water is a chemical before you get upset about chemicals for the sake of chemicals) in to the ground to induce fractures in the coal to increase gas flow in to the well.
Modelling is performed to ensure with a high degree of certainty that these fractures won’t propagate through the impermeable rock. In fact, fracture propagation doesn’t work like most people think it does, and it certainly doesn’t work like this model suggests.
* When a hole is drilled, especially in Australia where we have better regulation than USA, there are many measures that take place to ensure absolute minimal contamination of ground water. There are too many to cover here, but look up a simple video of how a gas drill hole is made.