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Hydraulic Fracturing (“Fracking”)


“Fracking” is a slang term for hydraulic fracturing.  Fracking refers to the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting steam or fluid and sand into cracks to force the rocks open, and to allow the oil and gas to flow out.  Vertical fracked wells have been drilled for decades but the new kid on the block is horizontal high-volume (aka “slick-water”) fracking developed around 2003.


Shale formations underlie much of the United States and Canada.  The formations are a source of natural gas and oil.  Historically the oil from the shale formations was too expensive to extract until technology was developed to drill horizontally.  Now fracking can occur kilometres below the surface, for kilometres away from the vertical well shaft.  A 6‑acre drilling pad can extract gas from beneath 1,000 acres of land (article.pdf).


Today there is a frenzy to develop North American oil reserves to compete on the global market.  For example, in North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation, fracking started in 2006, and now nearly 8,000 active wells dot the landscape (video).  In Colorado’s Weld County, there are more than 18,000 oil and gas wells. “With those wells has come health problems, air quality problems, water pollution problems (sinkholes, spills), water supply problems, illegal dam building, social problems (traffic, traffic2, hospital impact, transient people), real estate problems and financial problems (property value decrease, mortgages, gas company liens, homeowners insurance, landowners double-crossed, landowners cheated, road damage, land and soil contamination, land restriction, abandoned spent wells). No surprise, but this exploitative extractive industry tends to take the oil and gas — as well as all of the money — and leaves local governments and people with pollution and financial trouble in its wake.”  Gary Wockner (article)


Regarding water use, a vertical fracked well uses approximately 250,000 US gallons (1 million litres) of water for the initial frack (wells are fracked multiple times to keep the oil and gas flowing).  A horizontally fracked well requires approximately 5 million US gallons (19 million litres).  Much of the water is left in the ground (30%?) too deep to be of use.  The residual water is brought to the surface (flow-back & produced water), stored in tanks, underground wells and evaporation pits, often reused until it becomes highly toxic.  The cumulative quantity of water used/polluted/taken out of circulation is significant.  (study) (study)


Frack wastewater/production brine has been approved for use on roads in some of the U.S. states.  (article) (article) (article)


Frack wastewater treated and turned into salt is being sold as swimming pool salt. (article)


However, frack wastewater dumping has generated resistance across Ohio, including direct actions disrupting wastewater disposal operations from Youngstown to Athens County. The waste is injected underground into more than 170 wells statewide, contaminating water and causing numerous earthquakes across Ohio (article) from Marietta to Ashtabula, most notably a 4.0 earthquake in Youngstown. Surface spills are commonplace across Ohio, including the recent dumping of at least 20,000 gallons of toxic and potentially radioactive fracking wastewater into a storm drain that empties into a tributary of the Mahoning River in Youngstown, Ohio.  (article)   The fracking wastewater can be both explosive and radioactive.  (article)


Additionally, and becoming a greater problem every day, is disposal of the radioactive drill cuttings coming up from deep digs (below 3,000ft).  Considered medium level radioactive if for instance Radium 226 levels are around 93 microrem (mrem) above background levels (and thus higher than 10 mrem acceptable at standard landfill sites), the Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) can only be disposed of at limited designated facilities.  Fines for improper disposal are minimal (if the dumper gets caught).  (article)


Fracked wells are initially flared until steady product flow is achieved.  Flaring adds to air pollution and occurs for an indeterminate amount of time.  (article) (article) (article)


Keen companies have a tendency to over-estimate the production capacity of fracked wells.   (article)


It is interesting to note that studies are showing that wells in the Bakken shale formation are becoming stripper wells (producing 10bbls or less per day) after 6 years on average (source). The wells may produce for decades as stripper wells but it is debatable whether they are cost beneficial.  The average productive life of a Barnett Shale well is 7.5 years.  “Though production per well isn’t much, nationwide these stripper wells are an important part of our domestic energy supply because there are hundreds of thousands of stripper wells producing oil and gas in the United States.”  (article)


Abandoned oil and gas wells continue to pollute the air. (article


Many companies that once operated the wells seek bankruptcy protection and can’t pay the cost of reclaiming the land. (article)


The boom in gas production is also having an impact on forests - Gas Pipeline Boom Fragmenting Pennsylvania’s Forests, Roadkill.


The bust/cyclical aspect of the business also comes with impacts – Pet Surrenders,


Proponents state that there are significant direct and indirect jobs created by the oil and gas industry.  Opponents question the accounting behind such claims and ask whether the actual jobs created are worth the environmental damage and risk assumed by the extraction of fossil fuels. (article)


Proponents also claim that supporting the North American oil industry is morally and ethically better than supporting despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia.  (Women’s rights, Oprah Winfrey & Emma Pullman)


In Canada mineral rights belong to the provinces which lease minerals to producers and receive royalties.  In the U.S. there is a mixed system where surface owners can also own – have possessory rights that they can sell, bequest, and otherwise transfer – the mineral rights. (article)


Use of “frac” sand. (AO info)


Fracking and invasive species (article)


Fracking and wildlife (article)


The energy return on investment (EROI) of fracked oil and gas is poor and declining.  (article) (article)


More than 150 municipalities in the USA have passed a ban or moratorium on gas drilling or fracking, according to FracTracker (USA), a website tracking the issue.


The bigger picture:  (article)


Fracking vs. renewables:  (article)


What You Need to Know About Fracking In Canada by David Minkow, DesmogCanada





In land use, setbacks are minimum distances which establish a buffer between a structure or extraction area and any other place which is deemed in need of protection such as a river or road. 


What are the ideal setbacks for oil and gas wells?  Any increase in setback would restrict where companies can drill so operators fight to keep the setbacks either non-existent or low.





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Article Link



Bizjournals.com (USA)

Voters reject oil well setbacks as Colorado's Proposition 112 defeated

Greg Avery




When Oil and Gas Move in Next Door

Leigh Paterson and Jordan Wirfs-Brock


Government of Ontario

Aggregate & Petroleum Resource

Activities on Aggregate Sites (.pdf)

Ministry of Natural Resources – Lands & Waters Branch

-      Policy no. A.R. 5.00.07


Ontario, Canada


Currently there is no fracking in Ontario, but the Liberal government has made it plain that they are not opposed to development of oil and gas resources.


According to the Council of Canadians, in 2010 the Ministry of Natural Resources released an aerial survey of southwestern Ontario that maps out geological zones that lend themselves to oil and gas formations.  In 2011, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines published a study on areas of potential development for shale gas exploration.


On March 26, 2016, the then-provincial Liberal Minister of Natural Resources Bill Mauro told the Legislature “A legislative change would be required before we would consider moving forward with fracking in the province of Ontario.”


On May 17, 2017 the Ontario Liberal majority passed Bill 127 with its controversial Schedule 23 intact, opening the door to fracking in Ontario.


It appears that the required legislative change has now happened.  (source)



Fracking News – General





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Article Link



EcoWatch / Davidson

Fracking Study Shows Toxic Chemical Exposure 2,000 Feet From Drilling Sites

Jordan Davidson


EcoWatch / The Revelator

We’re Just Starting to Learn How Fracking Harms Wildlife

The Revelator



$3 Million Settlement Revealed In High-Profile Fracking Case

Reid Frazier


Comox Valley Record

Science Matters: What the frack?

David Suzuki



David Suzuki: As fracking booms, report finds we know little about impacts

David Suzuki




Investigation: Clorox Selling Pool Salt Made From Fracking Wastewater

Joshua B. Pribanic, Melissa A. Troutman



Shocking Study Shows Fracking Is Depleting US Drinking Water Sources at a Catastrophic Rate

John Vibes



Science Advances

Study: The intensification of the water footprint of hydraulic fracturing

Andrew J. Kondash, Nancy E. Lauer, Avner Vengosh



A New Breed of Fracking Quakes Emerges

David Wethe

[sound alert: auto starts video]

AO Info:  Earthquakes



Shale gas was going to make them rich. Then the checks arrived

The Philadelphia Inquirer


Montreal Gazette

Study: Benzene byproducts found in pregnant women near fracking sites

Charlie Fidelman



Six years after tremors halted fracking, Britain ready to try again

Susanna Twidale

AO International Oil & Gas News



Far away from any witnesses, my small town is being poisoned by fracking waste

Alison Stine



When Oil And Gas Move In Next Door

Leigh Paterson and  Jordan Wirfs-Brock


Lancaster Online

Fracking is causing invasion of harmful non-native plants in Pennsylvania forests, PSU researchers say

Ad Crable


EcoWatch / Oil Change Int’l

U.S. Fracked Gas Hits the UK

Andy Rowell

AO International Oil & Gas News


EcoWatch / Oil Change Int’l

France to Ban All New Development of Shale Oil and Gas

Andy Rowell


Council of Canadians

Council of Canadians condemns Wynne government giving green light to fracking in Ontario

- fracking in Ontario



A Dam Big Problem: Fracking Companies Build Dozens of Unauthorized Dams in B.C.'s Northeast

Ben Parfitt



What You Need to Know About Fracking In Canada

David Minkow


Natural Resources Canada

Understanding the Fate of Non-recovered Fracturing Water and the Source of Produced Salts for Optimizing Fracking Operations

University of Alberta


EcoWatch / Lorraine Chow

Doctors Orders: Stop Fracking Pennsylvania

Lorraine Chow


Globe and Mail

Study confirms link between fracking, earthquakes in Western Canada

Mark Hume

AO News – Earthquakes


University of Dayton (USA)

Hydraulic Fracturing Tort Litigation Summary (.pdf)

Professor Blake Watson


Taylor & Francis Online

Study:  Extreme energy, ‘fracking’ and human rights: a new field for human rights impact assessments?

Short,Elliot, NOrder, Lloyd-Davies, Morley


Guardian (UK)

Why is fracking bad? You asked Google – here's the answer

Adam Vaughan


Youtube / Earthworks

Video:  Hold Your Breath: fracking and clean air don't mix (5 mins)




Youtube / National Sierra Club

Video:  Fracking 101 (2.5 mins)

Narrated by Edward James Olmos


Bay Today / Canadian Press

Fracking chemicals not on Canada's pollutant list



Concerned Health Professionals of NY

Health Compendium



David Suzuki Foundation (Project)

Broken Ground (www.brokenground.ca)



EcoWatch / Midwest Energy News

Study Finds More Costs Than Benefits From Fracking


Douglas J. Guth


Wells Journal

Blog: Insurance shock for Wells home owners



Alternatives Journal

Fracking Hotspots

- map of Canada


Council of Canadian Academies

Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada (.pdf)

– report prepared for the Government of Canada in response to request by the Minister of Environment (2014)


Marathon Oil Corp.

Marthon Oil Corp. (7 mins) / Timelapse of drilling & fracking a well (2 mins)

Industry viewpoint


Chesapeake Energy

Chesapeake Energy (4 mins)

Industry viewpoint



Fracknation:  The Truth About Fracking (Video excerpts 14 mins 16-Aug-2013)




60 Minutes:  Shale Gas Drilling: Pros & Cons (Video 13 mins)



CBC Documentary

Burning Water (2010) (45 mins)



David Suzuki Foundation

Video: Shattered Ground (45 mins)



David Suzuki Foundation






Gas Drilling Awareness Coaltion: The Ethics of Fracking (37 mins)

Non-industry viewpoint



SciShow:  Facts About Fracking (5 mins)

Non-industry viewpoint



North Dakota, USA

Non-industry/Land-owner viewpoint



United States Environmental Protection Agency – Water:  Class II Wells – Oil & Gas Related Injection Wells (Class II)



Earth Focus (Britain’s study of USA operations)

Marcellus Shale - Fracking Hell: The Untold Story (18 mins)




The Shale Gas Shock (36pg .pdf) by Matt Ridley

Matt Ridley



USA Food & Water Watch – fracking action center




Brief Review of Threats to Canada’s Groundwater from the Oil and Gas Industry’s Methane Migration and Hydraulic Fracturing

by Ernst Environmental Services (June 2013)



Greenpeace:  Learning from the USA




What Goes In and Out of Hydraulic Fracturing

– innovative visual website



Environment America video (18-Oct-2013 – 8 mins)




“Stop Fracking Ontario” facebook page / Wordpress



For more information:


Fracking Across Canada


AWARE-Ontario Oil & Gas Health and Safety



Return to AWARE-Ontario Oil & Gas News


Return to AWARE-Ontario.ca Home Page


List of Ontario’s Issues


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Disclaimer:  This information has been compiled through private amateur research for the purpose of allowing the reader to make an informed and educated decision.  However, while the information is believed to be reliable, accuracy cannot be guaranteed.