Horizontal hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is fighting with coal mining for the title of worst possible method of resource extraction. Fracking ruins the environment and kills people. It is profitable at the moment though, so you can guess why it is so darned popular. Plus, in the US, people are desperate to feed their families and will take the dangerous jobs to make ends meet. Walter Brasch from Counterpunch writes about the consequences of fracking in his article titled “Life and Death in the Frack Zone”.
“José Lara just wanted a job.
A company working in the natural gas fields needed a man to power wash wastewater tanks.
Clean off the debris. Make them shining again.
And so José Lara became a power washer for the Rain for Rent Co.
“The chemicals, the smell was so bad. Once I got out, I couldn’t stop throwing up. I couldn’t even talk,” Lara said in his deposition, translated from Spanish.
The company that had hired him didn’t provide him a respirator or protective clothing. That’s not unusual in the natural gas fields.
José Lara did his job until he no longer could work.
At the age of 42, he died from pancreatic and liver cancer.”
For capitalism to work, a desperate exploitable class of people is needed. The fracking industry and exploitation were made for each other. But more on exploitation later, as the terribly toxic teat of fracking has much more to offer in the form of damage to human beings and the environment.
“Of the 750 chemicals that can be used in the fracking process, more than 650 of them are toxic or carcinogens, according to a report filed with the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2011. Several public health studies reveal that homeowners living near fracked wells show higher levels of acute illnesses than homeowners living outside the “Sacrifice Zone,” as the energy industry calls it.”
Here is a hint, when your industry’s nomenclature includes terminology like “Sacrifice Zone” its probably not a good industry. And what makes a bad industry worse? No unions. Unions are major drags on profitability, and thus unsurprisingly have little to no representation in the Fracking industry.
“The drivers, and most of the industry, are non-union or are hired as independent contractors with no benefits. The billion dollar corporations like it that way. It means there are no worker safety committees. No workplace regulations monitored by the workers. And if a worker complains about a safety or health violation, there’s no grievance procedure. Hire them fast. Fire them faster.
No matter how much propaganda the industry spills out about its safety record and how it cares about its workers, the reality is that working for a company that fracks the earth is about as risky as it gets for worker health and safety.”
But hey, its all okay, because the right class of people are getting richer and the right class of people are getting cancer and dying young.