Believe it or not, water is the best of the fluids (or bases) used for hydraulic fracturing. Other bases include kerosene, crude oil, and even diesel with its carcinogenic BTEX compounds (here is one chemical supplier for fracturing chemicals for these different frac fluids). A permitting process is just being developed through the EPA to provide guidance on the use of diesel. And, believe it or not, no permitting is required at all for hydraulic fracturing, for companies to inject kerosene, crude oil, and any number of chemicals. It's called the "Halliburton loophole." In fact, the chemicals do not even have to be disclosed, if they are "proprietary." Then, there are little requirements on treatment of the waste that comes back out.
The hydraulic fracturing industry is not alone in being yet another industry that does not have to deal with its waste at all. We talked about the coal waste problem (it's basically in our air). It is widely ignored, but solar panel disposal is going to cause major problems in the future because there is no current recycling system, and the panels contain dangerous heavy metals including cadmium, mercury, and lead. In our rush for "clean" energy, we have also built many wind turbines without considering the responsibility or cost for disposal/decommissioning after the short 15 years or less of life they provide on average. (the question falls on the communities- for instance, see this article from the Block Island Times- "Who Pays to Decommission Wind Turbines?"). The turbines become rusting eyesores but actually also contain dangerous rare earth metals.
The nuclear industry is the one industry required to not only safely contain all of its used fuel, but also to pay a tax for used fuel disposal- at about $5.5 million annually per nuclear plant-- to the tune of $750 million per year and amounting to over $25 billion dollars. As of today, these funds have gone unspent, and the power plants are hit with the double penalty of paying the fee as well as the responsibility to store their used fuel without help from the fund.
|Abandoned wind turbines from my trip to beautiful Hawaii, on the road to the southernmost point in the U.S.A. These sure can ruin a sunset.|