Hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, blasts chemical-laced water and sand deep into the earth to splinter rock formations and release oil and gas deposits.
This might sound like an idea worth pursuing in these days of rising fuel prices. But critics say the ecological problems outweigh the economic benefits, contending that fracking can spill toxic chemicals into groundwater--citing examples of contaminated wells in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and New York.
So when a Community Observer reader called to say Precision Geophysical was conducting seismic tests west of Manchester and that she feared fracking was the inevitable next step, we checked it out.
All Steven McCrossin, Precision Geophysical's president, would say was that they were in fact testing, not drilling or fracking. David Bechler of the state's Department of Environmental Quality confirms that it's all they're allowed to do: he says no permits have been drawn for further gas or oil exploration, much less for fracking, in western Washtenaw County.
Ron Mann, Manchester Township's supervisor, already knew about the tests. "Companies have been doing that here for four or five years, and I've heard some have signed leases, but to the best of my knowledge, nothing else's been done yet."