Fracking is a health risk in Vorarlberg

Green groups have raised the alarm over plans to use a controversial mining technique known as Fracking around Lake Constance in Germany that is already banned in some countries.

Gas and oil is harvested naturally after it leaks into underground reservoirs from source rocks – but with fracking the natural process is accelerated. Expanding chemicals are pumped into the rock thousands of meters underground causing the rock to move apart – increasing the rate in which oil and gas leaks into the reservoirs.

A porous material such as sand is then pumped into the newly created or expanded fissures to allow the oil or gas to flow.

The plan to use the technique around Friedrichshafen, Überlingen and Constance could have disastrous consequences locally including in Vorarlberg – Austria’s most westerly province.

Reinhold Einwallner (SPÖ) has warned of incalculable harm to local drinking water and danger to hundreds of thousands of locals.

The practice has come under scrutiny internationally due to concerns about the environmental impact, health and safety, and has been suspended or banned in some countries but not in Germany. Environmental concerns with hydraulic fracturing include the potential contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, the potential migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, the potential mishandling of waste, and the health effects of these, like cancer.

Green groups said many cases of suspected groundwater contamination have been documented.