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Breast Cancer Action: Why Fracking Must Be Banned

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Sandra SteingraberThe United States, as it turns out, has a lot of unburned natural gas trapped as tiny bubbles in our shale bedrock. Until about a decade ago, much of this trapped underground gas was considered unrecoverable. But that all changed with the rollout of a drilling technique (pioneered by Halliburton) called hydrofracturing, or fracking.

Fracking bores horizontally through the bedrock, blasts it with explosives, and forces into the cracks, under enormous pressure, millions of gallons of water laced with a proprietary mix of poisonous chemicals that further fracture the rock. These boreholes provide the channel out of which the gas flows.

Here’s how hydraulic fracturing introduces cancer risks into communities from the start and into perpetuity:

1.Many naturally occurring toxic materials, including, in some cases, radioactivity, are trapped inside shale bedrock. Drilling and fracking operations can liberate and mobilize these materials.
2. The chemicals necessary to frack the rock are themselves toxic.
3. Our drinking water aquifers lie above the rocks we are shattering.
4. Fracking lays down blankets of smog over surrounding landscapes, fills roadways with trucks hauling hazardous materials, sends sediment into streams, and generates immense quantities of radioactive, carcinogen-laced waste for which no fail-safe disposal options exist.
5. Thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals are added to the millions of gallons of fracking water.


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