Fracking Still A Hot Topic

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While the county would make a healthy profit from prospective drilling companies, environmental concerns are keeping many residents from giving fracking the nod of approval.

“Contamination is terrifying and oftentimes it’s not just the chemicals that get into the water,” says Camille Scott, a member of OU Students Against Fracking. “There are clips all over YouTube and documentaries of people who have been able to light their tap water on fire.”

The purpose of fracking—also known as hydraulic fracturing—is to extract natural gas from wells beneath the earth’s surface.

Natural gas companies first drill down vertically to the source, then horizontally to extract gas from thousands of feet away without the need for breaking more ground.

Once the drill turns horizontally in the ground, it is filled with steel and cement casing. Explosives are then placed and detonated to pierce the casing.

Finally, waste water is pumped at high pressure into the earth to penetrate the shale rock holding the natural gas, forcing the gas to rise to the surface.

While fracking is an effective way to obtain natural gas from untapped gas wells, it has come under fire in Athens County because of its potential to pollute the water supply and cause seismic activity.

Athens resident Heather Cantino says concerned citizens are pushing to bring about necessary protections to prohibit fracking.

“We have a working relationship with the [County] Commission,” Cantino says. “I think we are moving along toward getting some protections and some statements from the commission that will serve to indicate the need for protection of our county from the industry.

Fracking is by no means a new invention; it has been around since the late 1990s and currently occurs in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and northern Ohio, among other regions.

Organizations such as No Frack Ohio have actively taken a stand against fracking in the region, making the issue of fracking a topic of conversation in many homes.