Do. Not. Frack. Our. Karoo!

Forever is a long time.

Well that is how long the wells that Shell and other potential Frackers need to make their wells last.  A fracked landscapeExperts for Shell say that these wells will be built of steel and concrete and that they will never allow their fracking fluids to penetrate into the surrounding soil and more importantly – water.  This of course is a preposterous assertion, and sooner rather than later their noxious concoctions will start to creep into the groundwater.  For the record, Bonang Mohale of Shell refuses to answer the question as to whether they are able to guarantee that they will not pollute the groundwater in the Karoo.

If the Government of today give permission to go ahead and frack for shale gas, there will be in excess of 30 thousand wells, drilled in the into which the likes of Shell will need to pour more water the nearby Gariep Dam holds at full capacity.  Shell knows that, and they would truck in, rail in or pump in via a pipe line  – sea water because there is no other water for them to use.  They would make a mix of this water together with a concoction of carcinogenic chemicals, and throw in some diesel and other hydrocarbons into the mix, and bingo you have a fracking compound.  They then pump this mixture 20 million litres of it per frack into the hole and some more to build up the pressure so that their horizontal drill hole some 4500 metres into the earth explodes the rock in which the gas is stored.  The gas then pushes the mixture back up to the surface, but only a portion of it.  The rest remains underground.  Some of this has been used to keep the broken underground rocks open to release the gas, and the rest remains I the pipe.  It is both of these remnants that over time will leak into the water table.  It is this underground water that is the lifeblood of the Karoo that will get polluted.  Polluted because of many reasons but the two main reasons will be that the steel and concrete sleeve will not last, and this will not last because of two main reasons.  The first is because this sleeve will be attacked by abrasive water from outside if not inside.  The second attack will come from an increase in seismic activity from the fracking activity itself.  To give some example of this, in many regions elsewhere in the world, the seismic activity has increased from 50 earthquakes per year to more than a thousand.

There would be drill holes of some 5.7 million kilometres into the earth in the Karoo alone.  Anyone who thinks that these lined drill holes into the ground of that distance will in perpetuity not fail or will remain impervious must be deranged.

By Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor