The latest opinion piece from Our Santa Fe River about the ever-increasing threat of fracking in Florida has been printed in today’s Tallahassee Democrat. The article can be seen here in its entirety at this link.
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” is an oil drilling technique where sand, water and chemicals are injected deep into the ground under pressure in order to fracture the oil-bearing shale rock, allowing the oil and gas to be extracted. This technique causes earthquakes and is prone to leaking methane gases into the atmosphere. It also leaves toxic chemicals in the earth and in the aquifer.
Fracking is normally done in shale rock, but in Florida, most of the oil and gas is found in loosely mineralized soils, requiring the need for “acid fracking,” or “acidizing,” employing the use of acids such as hydrofluoric acid (HF) or hydrochloric acids (HCI) to dissolve limestone, dolomite and calcite cement.
A recent study at Duke University found that 92 percent of water and drilling fluids remained deep underground. Are these substances that we want to inject into our groundwater or allow to be anywhere near our aquifer? There is no such thing as safe fracking.
Some chemicals used in fracking are non-toxic, but a new study says that out of 81 common compounds, there’s very little known about the potential health risks of about one-third of them. And some indeed, are well known carcinogens: benzene, toluene, xylene, methanol, lead, hydrogen fluoride, naphthalene, sulfuric acid, formaldehyde, crystalline silica.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection chief of mining Calvin Alvarez says that fracking is not a “factor” in South Florida, and Ed Garrett, DEP section administrator, says that we don’t frack in Florida. And Ed Pollister, owner of Century Oil, says that fracking is inevitable, and that if he doesn’t do it, somebody else will.
But fracking has occurred in Florida and it is allowed by the FDEP. And the interest in this is recent: in the past five years there have been 37 drilling applications granted, and of these, 16 have been in the past year. This recent surge of new interest in Florida is due mostly to the new extraction technology which makes it possible and profitable to exploit previously inaccessible pools of oil and gas.
OSFR is grateful to Randi Atwood, Public Service Editor of the Tallahassee Democrat for helping us inform the public of the dangers facing Florida’s fragile environment.