Friday, 8 February 2013

Between a rock and a hard place: Welcome to the blogosphere

Just a short note to welcome a new Bristol Earth Sciences blog to the blogosphere. Between a Rock and A Hard Place is being written by some of our Earth Science PhD students.

I look forward to seeing what you produce while avoiding writing up your theses. A blog as the ultimate procrastination tool is a fabulous idea. Marvellous. Good luck.


  1. Hey have you seen this program in Canada on Fracking.
    They bring up the whole issue of air emissions, and the use of many gallons of fresh water which becomes contaminated, left in settling ponds leaving a toxic sludge. Do you have insights into this??

    1. Hi ruralgrubby,

      Unfortunately I wasn't able to view the link you posted as that program seems to be only available in Canada. However, I am aware of the issues you bring up. In the UK it is not allowed to leave the flowback water in open ponds - it must be placed in sealed tanks and taken away for treatment.

      If you read the comments from this post ( I think anonymous would take you to task for describing it as 'toxic', as in industry that has a very specific definition. But the water does need to be properly treated after it is recovered from the well.

      My take on this is that there have clearly been incidents where contamination has occurred. In almost every case, this can be tracked back to poor or even illegal practice by an operator (illegally dumping the waste fluid, for example, or allowing a pond to overflow). The are tens of thousands of fracked wells across North America, the majority of which have not caused problems. There is nothing inherent about shale gas extraction that will cause problems, so long as the process is managed responsibly. However, particularly to the south of the border, there isn't a great history of companies being environmentally responsible when a quick buck is to be made.

      The key is a robustly enforced regulatory regime (not a complete banning of shale gas extraction, as we have seen in New York State).