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5 Weird and Frightening Effects of Fracking You May Not Know About

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Health Issues page.

What comes to mind when you think of fracking? Perhaps it’s images of tap water being lit on fire or stories of families suffering health problems after nearby wells are fracked. Indeed, the health and environmental impacts of fracking are being documented, but it’s important to know that fracking is a catalyst for widespread negative consequences. This list includes five effects of fracking you may not have heard about.

1. Methane Geysers

This past June, a methane geyser was found in Pennsylvania’s Tioga County. Yes, a geyser — shooting methane-infused water 30 feet up in the air.

Once the geyser was discovered, the county immediately turned to Shell, which was drilling in three nearby locations. Shell and the Department of Environmental Protection began investigating, and it was correctly suspected that an abandoned well from the 1930s contributed to the problem. Last week, a new report confirmed that Butters well, drilled in 1932, was part of the chain reaction that triggered the geyser. But the main problem was Shell’s fracking, as it displaced methane pockets underground, which then moved into Butters well and shot up to the surface.

Improperly abandoned wells, like Butters well, are hard to uncover, as they were drilled long before permits were required or any kind of records were kept. With as many as 300,000 wells drilled in Pennsylvania over the past 150 years, it’s unknown how many abandoned wells there may be that could be dangerous. For example, the DEP informed Shell of Butters well, but there was no information on whether or not it had been plugged. Meanwhile, regulators don’t require drilling companies to search for, inspect and plug abandon wells.


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