Hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) produces fractures in rock formations (thousands of feet below the surface) by pumping large quantities of fluids at high pressure down vertical and horizontal wellbores in order to extract natural gas or oil. The hydraulic fracturing fluid consists of water, proppant (sand, ceramic pellets) and chemical additives including volatile organic chemicals and carcinogens like benzene, methyl benzene, and formaldehyde.
Once the injection process is completed, the internal pressure of the rock formation causes fluid to return to the surface through the wellbore. This “flowback” or “produced water” may contain the injected chemicals plus naturally occurring materials such as brines, metals, radionuclides, and hydrocarbons.
Environmental hazards associated with fracking includes air pollution, ground water and surface water contamination, wastewater disposal concerns, shrinking water supplies, potential earthquakes, and habitat loss. The Delaware River Basin Commission has proposed draft rules banning hydrofracking that have yet to be implemented.
At least three New Jersey municipalities have enacted ordinances banning fracking and dozens of NJ communities have passed resolutions opposing the dangerous consequences of hydrofracking.