Fracking is a heated topic right now. Opponents of the technique argue that the plentiful chemical and sand-laced water that gets pumped at high pressure into the shale rock can contaminate our water supply, while supporters point to the benefits offered by the process in enabling us to reach fuel reserves.
The latest to weigh in on the controversy is a report from the U.K.’s Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, which jointly released studies explaining that fracking is safe provided ample oversight and care is heeded.
The issue is particularly fraught for the U.K. since fracking triggered two earthquakes near Blackpool last year, and further fracking operations have been considered at seven sites throughout the U.K.
The BBC reports:
"Our main conclusions are that the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing for shale can can be safely managed provided there is best practice observed and provided it's enforced through strong regulation," said the report's chair, Prof Robert Mair from Cambridge University.
"The UK regulatory system is up to the job for the present very small scale exploration activities, but there would need to be strengthening of the regulators if the government decides to proceed with more shale gas extraction, particularly at the production stage," he told BBC News.
Generally, the report identifies major care-taking measures like strict monitoring of methane levels during operations, proper site inspections, coordination between government agencies, and so on.
The report also addresses concerns of water contamination and points out that this is a non-issue provided that wells are constructed properly and that fracking occurs far below the aquifer-level. The report does take issue with U.S. practice of leaving waste water out in the open (something that would not be allowed in the U.K.).
Fracking, tight oil, and shale oil have been in the news lately, and Europe has been taking a keen interest in it all–but agreement is not uniform across the Eurozone. France has banned it, but Poland seems very interested in it. Developments are sure to follow swiftly over the coming months and years.