Nicoletti Walker Law Group
“Is It Safe to Frack in Florida?”
On May 9th. Newsweek featured an article addressing whether it is safe to frack in Florida. Fracking—aka hydraulic fracturing—has been controversial in many states, including Florida, not only for its impacts on the environment, but on the people located close to the activity. In fact, it’s such an issue that a number of cities and counties in Florida have even banned it at the local levels.
What is fracking, exactly? The technique involves injecting a mixture of chemicals, water, and sand into oil and natural gas wells at a very high pressure such that this mixture can break up the rocks and allow the gas and oil to migrate to the surface. The problem is that it leaves a briny fluid leftover that is difficult to dispose of. It can’t be left on the surface because it would be a major pollutant, so it is typically reinjected into the earth, or into “injection wells.”
Potential Harm to People
Apart from the disposal issue, some scientists maintain that the injection of this wastewater is essentially leading to earthquakes of a greater magnitude, which, in turn, hurts people. It can also potentially contaminate drinking-water and irrigation aquifers, where poor drilling practices have allowed methane to enter aquifers in some areas. In addition, there’s a lot we still just don’t know about the process and its repercussions in general.
As a result of fracking in states such as AR, CO, LA, NY, OH, OK, PA, TX, and WV, lawsuits have been filed with respecting to associated damage. These lawsuits allege causes of action for public and private nuisance, absolute and strict liability, negligence, and trespass. Plaintiffs have been able to prove to the court that their homes have been damaged by vibrations resulting from nearby drilling activity. Parties have also settled in some instances where fracking companies are using the subsurface storage capacity of plaintiffs’ property, and were thus accused of both trespass and unjust enrichment. Other successful lawsuits have simply sought disclosure of the drilling muds and chemicals used by the company when natural gas wells operated by defendant companies contaminate the aquifer on people’s property.
Unknowns in Florida
Perhaps most frightening to Florida locals is just all of the unknowns in the state that could lead to issues, should fracking start here, such as:
- Are the conditions right for oil or gas to form in the first place?
- Where are the faults that could lead to earthquakes?
- How can we ensure that wastewater disposal is safe if we don’t know what the distribution of permeable and impermeable zones is?
- Will we need those areas where wastewater would be injected to, instead, store freshwater as we overuse the shallower aquifers?
Florida Personal Injury Attorney
Florida property owners who do not ensure that their property is safe for others—or businesses that come in and contaminate property, placing others in harm’s way—can, in some instances, be held liable for injuries that occur on that property. Clearwater attorney Mike Walker understands what can result from dangerous conditions like these, and he is dedicated to ensuring that justice is done. Contact the office today for a free consultation if you’ve been harmed by such an activity.