Companies set to extract shale gas in the UK are expected to offer communities local to the exploratory drilling facilities sums of £100,000 and those next to production sites will receive 1% of all generated revenues. Critics have questioned whether the sums will adequately compensate communities for the inevitable financial losses that they will suffer to the value of their properties as a result of the plans. Questions have also been raised as to whether those who are most affected will even receive the money as it appears that the money may in fact be directed towards the local councils in which the affected residents subside.
As well as the far reaching financial and environmental concerns that fracking processes ignite, the process of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, also poses a risk to workers employed in the industry of developing silicosis and other respiratory illness as a result of airborne dust created during the fracking procedure.
Fracking encompasses the use of highly pressurized drilling methods in order to extract natural gas from rock. After an oil or natural gas well is drilled, a pressurized combination of sand, chemicals, and water is pumped deep below the earth's surface in order to create fractures in the rock. Sand is also pumped into these wells in order to hold open the tiny fissures that appear during the drilling, which allows oil or natural gas to escape from the rock. The sand that is used at fracking sites typically contains a large proportion of silica which can become airborne when moved between transport and machinery. This increases the likelihood that workers may inhale airborne silica dust, which can put them at risk of developing silicosis or other respiratory diseases.
Silicosis tends to develop 20 years or more after an individual has been exposed to the potentially harmful silica dust and so any employers employing workers on such sites should take precautionary steps to ensure that their staff are properly equipped with suitable personal protective equipment when commencing work on these sites.
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