Hydrofracking for natural gas involves mixing water, sand and chemicals then pumping them down a wellshaft and out perforations in the wellbore pipe, under high pressures so the rock is fractured. The sand remains in the fractures, allowing gas to escape. The technique is nothing new – it’s been used for many decades.
High Volume Slickwater Horizontal Hydrofracking versus the old style vertical fracking is a matter of scale because the wellbores are exponentially longer when the drill is turned and goes sideways through the shale horizontally, up to a mile and a half. Vertical hydrofracking, still allowed in New York State, uses a regulated maximum of eighty thousand gallons of water.
High Volume hydrofracking requires three to eight million gallons of water per well and twenty tons of chemicals additives per million gallons. With the fracking, (ramping up of the pressure on the fluids injected into the wellbore,) the fluid picks up radioactivity, volatile organic chemicals, heavy metals and salts from the strata, turning the water mixture into toxic waste. Up to thirty percent of the fluid flows back to the surface –at minimum, a million gallons each frack – where it has to be stored, handled, transported and ultimately disposed of, as it cannot be treated to be returned to the hydrological cycle. The rest of the toxic brine remains underground.
Each wellpad would have between six and twelve wells. Truck trips? Do the math. Not even including the building of the pads and the equipment and the drilling, just for the water and flowback fluid alone at 5000 gallons per tanker truck – thousands of truck trips are required for each well fracked