DENR: Fracking Can Be Done Safely, With Protection

11:02 PM, Mar 19, 2012   |    comments
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  • Courtesy: North Carolina Dept. of Environment & Natural Resources
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  • Greensboro, NC -- The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has released a study that says hydraulic fracturing can be done safely in North Carolina if the right protections are in place.

    Just last week, Governor Bev Perdue said she believes "fracking" makes sense if it can be regulated.

    Gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory told News 2 last week that he thinks the state has wasted time legalizing fracking and argues we're less competitive with other states.

    But with the economic and energy hopes come some serious concerns about what exactly is fracking.

    So, what is fracking?

    There's a reserve of natural gas in layers of shale several thousand feet under the ground in parts of Lee, Chatham, Orange, Rockingham and Stokes counties.

    "Fracking" is the process that gas companies would have to use to get to it.

    Here's how it works:

    Gas companies pump large amounts of water mixed with fine sand or ceramic beads and a cocktail of chemicals into the shale.

    The pressure cracks the rock and the sand or beads go into the cracks in the rock to keep the cracks open. That opens up the flow of gas.

    Then they pump all the water and chemicals back out of the ground and the gas flows out of the pipe.

    Kenneth Taylor, Chief of the NC Geological Survey, said each gas company has its own recipe for fracking fluid.

    Taylor said it's normally some combination of ethylene glycol, basically radiator fluid for your car, biocide to kill all the critters that could eat away at the pipes, and some chemicals that make the water more acidic to keep the pipes clean.

    The DENR study will be presented to the North Carolina General Assembly by May 1, 2012.

    However, the legislators are not expected to vote until January, 2013.

    As of now, drilling rigs are reserved in other states seven and eight months in advance. The actual drilling process takes weeks and even months, so the potential for drilling in North Carolina is actually years away.

    The DENR Study looks more closely at the pros and cons of fracking and natural gas drilling.

    You can find the complete study, including the recommendations, here:

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