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Fracking: A Controversial and Noisy Energy Process: Part 2 of 2

Posted by Larry Lasseter on Dec 23, 2013 4:25:00 PM

Fracking Blog Part 2 Series Header

Fracking is a Noisy Business

Fracking wells can be located near homes, schools, and other places that are normally located away from industrial businesses. Many people and families across the country are publically expressing their concerns about having to be so near fracking gas wells and about the non-stop noise the operation creates for their neighborhood. 

Sources of Noise in a Fracking Operation Noise

Anybody who has been around an oil or gas field knows that it is a loud environment. Operating heavy equipment to move earth; shape a padsite; erect a drilling rig; supply the well site with materials, tools, etc. via semi trucks; and run all the equipment necessary to set up and drill a well is a very loud operation that lasts 25-45 days, in most cases. To surrounding neighbors, some of those noises are irritating and offensive, but some of them are harmful. Specific sources of fracking-related noise include: 

    fracking pad site excavation Site preparation - Activities that cause noise include ground clearing, grading, waste management , vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and construction and installation of facilities. A quote from an article found online described it as, “It sounds like setting up for a circus more or less. You got them coming in setting up pad sites and putting up the walls, then the trucks start rolling in and you don’t know where they are coming from but they just keep coming.”

    • The fracking process – Primary sources of noise during the drilling are equipment drill rigs, and diesel engines. 

    • Vehicular traffic / heavy trucks  - Fracking requires large quantities of sand, water and chemicals at a well site. Trucks also haul away the waste fluids from the drilling.  A single fracking job requires hundreds of truck trips, and each well is generally fracked up to ten times. The increase in truck noise on surrounding roads is exponential.

Fracking Compressor station 11    • Compressor stations – To keep natural gas in a highly pressurized state for transport through pipelines, compressor stations are located every 40 to 100 miles along the route.  The stations typically have multiple large industrial compressors.  Some health impairments sometimes reported by persons who live near compressor stations include headaches, nosebleeds, sore throats, sinus irritation, skin rash, itchiness, cough,   difficulty breathing, visual impairments and burning eyes. nausea, vomiting and neurological impacts like dizziness, fainting, ataxia, dystonia, loss of balance

Municipalities Are Requiring Noise Control Action

State and local noise regulations restrict the amount of noise, the duration of noise and the source of noise for fracking companies. There are usually noise level restrictions for certain times of the day. Many municipalities where drilling is allowed are requiring the use of sound baffling materials around a well site. A sound baffle is a construction or device which reduces the level of airborne sound. Sound baffles are a fundamental tool of noise mitigation, the practice of minimizing noise pollution or reverberation. 

Many fracking companies say they are working to become better neighbors and address the concerns of community residents who live near the wells. 

Tags: hydrofracking noise, fracking noise, fracking compressor noise, All Weather Sound Panels, industrial noise, Acoustiblok

Fracking: A Controversial and Noisy Energy Process: Part 1 of 2

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Dec 18, 2013 3:01:00 PM

Fracking Blog Series DUOTONE Header This is a three part blog about the issue of high volume hydraulic fracturing, known to many as "hydrofracking" or "fracking," and noise issues that surround it.  

PART I:  The Controversy

According to the Wall Stree Journal, more than 15 million Americans now live within one mile of a fracking well. America is in the midst of an energy boom. It's expected to continue for decades and natural gas is expected to replace coal as the largest source of U.S. electricity by 2035, the Department of Energy forecasts. This energy bonanza is largely due to the combined use of horizontal drilling and fracking.

New oil and gas wells have turned millions of people into the petroleum industry’s neighbors.While many welcome the oil and gas companies who come bearing checks for temporarily leasing their land, others do not. Many people think the operation is noisy, disruptive and risky to human health and the environment despite the financial benefits.

Fracking History

Fracking technology has existed since 1947, but it mushroomed in the late 1980s when companies began to combine it with horizontal drilling to magnify productivity. In the last 15 years, a frenzy of drilling has taken place in the Western states – involving tens of thousands of individual wells (for example, 30,000 in the State of Colorado alone). This has spread into the Midwest and other areas as well. Millions of acres of land have been leased in 32 states by companies that are eager to get in on the “gas bonanza.” There are more than 500,000 active natural gas wells in the U.S. Fracking is also being done in other countries such as Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and others.

Fracking Process 

fracking how it works 2 D drawingTo get natural gas or oil through hydraulic fracturing, companies:

-  Clear a well site, drill a bore hole, and drive a drill bit thousands of feet through the earth to reach layers of shale rock. 

-  Once they reach the strata of shale rock, they rotate the drill bit by 90 degrees and bore a horizontal cavity laterally through the shale seam to access a longer stretch of the deposit— from 1,000 feet to more than 10,000 feet. 

-  From the well head, they insert explosive charges down the bore hole and into the horizontal opening, and then set them off to perforate the well pipe and burst fissures in the rock. 

-  The drillers then pump millions of gallons of highly pressurized water, sand, ceramic beads, and chemical slurry into the hole to expand the fissures and hold them open. 

  -  As natural gas or oil begins to flow upward to the wellhead on the surface, the sand and beads prevent the fissures from closing. 

  -  Wastewater and drilling fluids that rise to the surface with the gas or oil are stored in ponds or tanks, or trucked away in heavy tank trucks.

The Issues For and Against

The following are some often used views from opponents and proponents about fracking:

Detractors Say:

Supporters and Industry Say:

  • Non-stop truck, heavy machinery, and compressor station noise.
  • The noise is non-stop, 24-hours a day, 7 days per week for about a month.
  • There's more the companies can do to reduce the noise.
  • The wells are often located close to neighborhoods and schools.
  • The chemicals used hurt the environment and are a danger to human health.
  • The drilling is causing earthquakes and making the earth's rock core unstable.
  • The chemicals they use can cause cancer.
  • The process contaminates the local potable water supply. Some people's water can be lit on fire even.
  • Kills animals and disrupts their local habitat. 
  • The process "rapes" the earth, is an invasive process.
  • It degrades the environment.
  • The noise is temporary for one month per well. More steps are being taken to mitigate noise at well sites.
  • The well sites are temporary and not permanent.
  • It's a safe process. The process has been made safer over the decades of doing it.
  • It gives America a chance to be energy self-sufficient for the next 118 years 
  • People don't have "correct" and accurate information about it.
  • Activists use powerful misleading soundbytes to sway public opinion.
  • It creates jobs and the growing industry will put more people to work.
  • It's a clean energy source that is abundant. 

The natural gas contained in the shale formations represents a huge storehouse of America's cleanest fossil fuel. The Potential Gas Committee, a non-profit group of natural gas experts, forecasts that this resource base contains 1,836 Tcf of gas. This, plus the proven reserves (238 Tcf ) identified by the US Department of Energy in 2007, means that the U.S. has enough natural gas to last at current rates of use for 118 years. 

Some aren’t buying into the fracking hype however and think the risks are too high. Attacks on fracking come from environmental, political, and economical sides. Movies such as Gasland, Gasland2, Promised Land, Down Deep and Unearthed have even brought each side’s issues to the big screen and social media. Polarized by divided allegiances to politics, parties, and popular opinion, many people are left wondering who to trust and what to believe. 

PART 2 OF THIS BLOG SERIES WILL COVER:

Noise issues associated with fracking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: environmental noise, hydrofracking noise, fracking noise, city noise laws, drilling noise, compressor noise, industrial noise, Noise pollution, noise barrier