Of mice, cows, men and sperm counts

A report published October 2015 entitled ‘Endocrine-Disrupting Activity of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Adverse Health Outcomes After Prenatal Exposure in Male Mice’, has stated that there is a possible reduction in reproductive health in both humans and livestock as a result of significant exposure to chemicals related to high volume hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as unconventional shale gas extraction (USGE).

One must ask:

‘Can you really take the results of a scientific study involving lab mice, and confidently state that the same results that happened to the mice, are guaranteed to apply cows and humans?’

Well, the answer is no. You can’t, becasue mice, livestock and humans are different species of animal. We have different biological systems from one another. Just because something can negatively affect a mouse, it will not hold as guarantee that it can negatively affect a cow or a human. In other words, just becasue I like eating cheese, it does not hold that I will get caught in a mouse trap. And yet, be it mouse, cow or human, were you to cut off our heads, as organisms, we would all die. So, you do need to be able to investigate what will and won’t affect us in the same manner. In fact, there are parallels to this situation with lab mice and fracking chemicals, and the miners of yester year who brought canaries down the mines with them. The canaries acted as an indicator that there may be risk of harm to human health.

The results form teh paper were taken from experiements run on C57BL/6 Mice (image source: gdmlac.com)

The results from the paper were taken from experiments run on C57BL/6 Mice. For more information on their characteristics, please click the image source link. (image source: gdmlac.com)

Hence, ethically, in relation to fracking chemicals, it is easier to test an experiment out on a mouse, and if there are adverse effects, you can knock on the scientific door that asks if these same harms could affect humans and our agricultural livestock. The study states:

“Oil and natural gas operations have been shown to contaminate surface and ground water with endocrine-disrupting chemicals. In the current study, we fill several gaps in our understanding of the potential environmental impacts related to this process.”

In particular, the study:

  • measured the endocrine-disrupting activities of 24 chemicals used and/or produced by oil and gas operations.
  • quantified the concentration of 16 of these chemicals in oil and gas wastewater samples.
  • assessed reproductive and developmental outcomes in male C57BL/6J mice after the prenatal exposure to a mixture of these chemicals.

The study found that 23 of 24 of the oil and gas related chemicals inhibit the estrogen, androgen, glucocorticoid, progesterone, and/or thyroid receptors within the lab mice. For the lab mice, this led to decreased sperm counts and increased testes, body, heart, and thymus weights and increased serum testosterone in male mice. Hence:

23 out of 24 oil and gas related chemicals, when working in concert within their bodies, led to multiple organ system impacts within the lab mice.

Will these results hold true for humans exposed to the same chemicals? Well, the only sure way that we can find out is by running the same experiment on human test subjects. If you thought that laboratory experiments on mice is unethical, then surely you will hold that running laboratory experiments on human test subjects is highly unethical.

What is important to note is that no community should risk exposing local members of their community to the multiple organ system impacts that were found to affect reproductive and biological systems in these lab mice.

It really is for industrial corporations and governments to prove that humans and livestock will not be negatively affected by exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals.

In other words, the precautionary principle must be applied.

If your community is exposed to these chemicals, and the reproductive abilities of local livestock and humans are negatively affected, then you must ask:

  • What do we do to reverse this within the affected individuals?
  • If we can’t reverse the harm done, then what can we actually do?

Humans are not laboratory mice, and we don’t like getting caught in mouse traps. We should investigate the harmful affects of fracking chemicals further, before committing our communities for future generations to a process that may prove harmful to our human health. For, if these negative effects once experienced, cannot be reversed, then we will find ourselves caught in a trap from which we cannot escape.

Stay connected with the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) viaFacebook, twitter. Furthermore, you can view our blogs pictorially on Pinterest.

Remember: More research must be done to rove that fracking chemicals are safe to human and agricultural health. Communities must demand that the precautionary principle be applied by fracking companies and governments.

Please leave you comments below. Thank you, FFAN.

Oklahoma: 100 years of waste water earthquakes

In Oklahoma, since 2009 there has been a sharp increase in earthquakes brought about by the  use of waste water injection wells used by fracking companies as they conduct High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF), other wise known as Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction (USGE), or fracking.

However, the US Geological Survey decided to investigate historical earthquake data for the state of Oklahoma and found that there have been induced (man-made) earthquakes that were caused by the process of waste water well injection practices dating back to the 1920’s

This is not to say that Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction was responsible for these historical earthquakes, for that particular process of shale gas extraction did not exist back then.

However, waste water injection wells are used in the current USGE process to store waste water from fracking underground. Waste water injection wells have been found to create earthquakes today. It has now been found that they have done so since the 1920’s.

A deep water injection well, which can be used for fracking waste water, or municipal waste water.

A deep water injection well.

The new study shows that: “it is possible that earthquakes were induced by oil production activities in Oklahoma as early as the 1920s, and several lines of evidence support our conclusion that much of the earthquake activity in the 1950s and 1980–1990s was induced.”

The study also states that earthquake activity since 2009 is: “not consistent with the level of natural rate fluctuations seen in the past.”

The study shows that earthquakes from the 1950’s correlated with oil and gas permits granted at the time, and near the location.

Key findings of the report include:

  • seismicity rates since 2009 surpass previously observed rates throughout the twentieth century.
  • Several lines of evidence suggest that most of the significant earthquakes in Oklahoma during the twentieth century were likely induced by oil production activities, as they exhibit statistically significant temporal and spatial correspondence with disposal wells, and intensity measurements for the 1952 El Reno earthquake and possibly the 1956 Tulsa County earthquake follow the pattern observed in other induced earthquakes.
  • There is evidence for a low level of tectonic seismicity in southeastern Oklahoma associated with the Ouachita structural belt. The 22 October 1882 Choctaw Nation earthquake, for which we estimate Mw 4.8, occurred in this zone.

As we discussed before, Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction has been officially linked with man made earthquakes due to the use of waste water injection wells.

Fracking traffic: increase in noise and NOx pollution

A new study published in March 2016 entitled, ‘Investigating the traffic-related environmental impacts of hydraulic-fracturing (fracking) operations’, has concluded that fracking related traffic may increase local noise and air pollution.

In particular, the study highlights that during peak hours of operation, fracking traffic can:

  • Lead to a 30% increase of NOx emmissions.
  • A single well pad can significantly increase levels of pollutants.
  • Increase noise pollution during night time hours.
  • Multiple pads operating can lead to a compounded effect in a localised area.

The paper discusses that despite the fact that fracking traffic increases may appear to be short, relative to the life time of the overall project, they can likely lead to sharp increases of pollutants and noise in the local area of operation:

“…examination of maximal results for phases with high traffic demand, even though the duration of those phases may be short, show substantial increases over the baseline, potentially leading to pollution exceedance events and breaches of local air quality standards, or increased annoyance and sleep disturbance in relation to noise.”

The above shows teh 5 phases to teh life time fo a fracking well. These phases were taken into consideration for modelling teh environmental impacts of fracking trucks. (image source: sciencedirect.com)

The above shows the 5 phases to the life time of a fracking well. These phases were taken into consideration for modelling the environmental impacts of fracking trucks. (image source: sciencedirect.com)

The paper points out that a solution that could mitigate the negative effects of fracking traffic, would be the implementation of pipelines that could transport water and chemicals instead:

“…fracking activities in the UK may be more able to follow existing onshore oil and gas exploration practice with water supply by pipeline, thus reducing reliance on road tanker transport.”

Furthermore, the paper states that by the mid 2020’s, there may be a reduction of traffic related NOx pollutants due to improvements of standards and regulations (EURO V and VI standards). The paper concedes that there is no real life data to back up the assumption and that the subject remains an area of active research as:

“It is anticipated and understood that NOx emissions rates will need to be updated as more knowledge on the real-world performance of EURO V HDVs, but especially EURO VI vehicles come to light. Performance of EURO V HDVs using de-NOxcatalysts (SCR), in conjunction with particle traps, has not lived up to initial promise.”

In conclusion, the paper states:

“Exploratory analyses using the model have revealed that the traffic impact of a single well pad can create substantial increases in local air quality pollutants during key activity periods, primarily involving the delivery of water and materials for fracking to the site. Modelling of NOx emissions showed increases reaching 30% over non-fracking periods and noise levels doubling (+ 3.4 dBA), dependent on access policy implemented to the site, potentially exacerbating existing environmental issues.”

In relation to County Fermanagh, it would be important for citizens to ask:

  • Would we prefer pipelines to trucks for transportation of fluids and would pipelines eradicated the need for fracking trucks?
  • How much of a detrimental effect would a 30% increase during peak hours affect the quality of our air, and the health of locals?
  • Will we see fracking trucks that can reduce NOx levels, despite the fact that there is no real life data to support the idea, in the face of the fact that particle traps (that capture NOx particles) have been shown not to work as effectively as promised?
  • How much of a nuisance will noise pollution actually be to our sleeping patterns?

Stay connected with the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) viaFacebook, twitter. Furthermore, you can view our blogs pictorially on Pinterest.

Can fracking damage fermanagh roads?

A 2014 study published in Journal of Infrastructure Systems, Estimating the Consumptive Use Costs of Shale Natural Gas Extraction on Pennsylvania Roadways,” investigates the damage that the overall process of High Volume Hydraulic fracturing can bring to road structures.

The RAND Corporation and Carnegie Mellon University, who conducted the report, analysed the design life and reconstruction cost of roadways in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania.

They found that local municipal roads are generally designed to support passenger vehicles, not heavy trucks, and that “the useful life of a roadway is directly related to the frequency and weight of truck traffic using the roadway.”

With fracking comes and increase in heavy trucks on roads designed for smaller vehicles. Over time, teh quality of roads will increase at a faster rate. Who will pay for the upkeep of municipal roads? (image source: inthesetimes.com)

With fracking comes and increase in heavy trucks on roads designed for smaller vehicles. Over time, the quality of roads will increase at a faster rate. Who will pay for the upkeep of municipal roads? (image source: inthesetimes.com)

As a result, the study found that an increase in heavy road traffic, a characteristic feature of HVHF (due to transporting heavy materials and high volumes of fluids) will lead to an increase of road damage. And as a result, this can lead to an economic increase in the costs of road maintenance.

The study’s findings include:

  • Heavier vehicles cause exponentially greater roadway damage: A single axle with a 3,000-pounds load has a load equivalency factor (LEF) of 0.0011; for an 18,000-pound load, the LEF is 1.0; and for 30,000 pounds, it’s 8.28. “This means that 18,000-pound and 30,000-pound single-axle … do about 900 times and 7,500 times more damage than a 3,000-pound single axle pass, respectively.”
  • The estimated road-reconstruction costs associated with a single horizontal well range from $13,000 to $23,000. However, Pennsylvania often negotiates with drilling companies to rebuild smaller roads that are visibly damaged, so the researchers’ conservative estimate of uncompensated roadway damage is $5,000 and $10,000 per well.
  • While the per-well figure of $5,000-$10,000 appears small, the increasingly large number of wells being drilled means that substantial costs fall on the state: “Because there were more than 1,700 horizontal wells drilled [in Pennsylvania] in 2011, the statewide range of consumptive road costs for that year was between $8.5 and $39 million,” costs paid by state transportation authorities, and thus taxpayers.

This report should allow local residents to question the hidden, often overlooked cost of allowing the process of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing within county Fermanagh and beyond. Who will pay for the maintenance of local roads? Should the responsibility be left to local residents, or the local fracking company? If we were to leave the responsibility to the fracking company, can we ensure that they will pay for the damage of their practice? Leave your comments below.

Stay connected with the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) viaFacebook, twitter. Furthermore, you can view our blogs pictorially on Pinterest.

New report officially links earthquakes and waste water disposal

The US Geological Survey have just released a report that links increased seismic activity with processes related to High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing, other wise known as fracking.

The open file 2016 report entitled, ‘One Year Seismic Hazard Forecast for the central and eastern United States from Induced and Natural Earthquakes’, states:

“Earthquake rates have recently increased markedly in multiple areas of the Central and Eastern United States (CEUS), especially since 2010, and scientific studies have linked the majority of this increased activity to wastewater injection in deep disposal wells.”

“Such changes have caused concern to many, including residents, business owners, engineers, and public officials responsible for mitigating or responding to the effects of these earthquakes on nearby populations,” it continues.

Basic schematic of injection well. (image source: indianagazette.com)

Basic schematic of injection well. (image source: indianagazette.com)

Whilst the report states that some earthquakes have occurred before practices of waste water injection, they state that this is not always the case in that: “While peak acceleration ground shaking values may not correlate as well as peak ground velocity or other measures with damage (Worden and others, 2010), these examples illustrate that high ground shaking is occurring at sites near wastewater disposal wells.”

“The evidence for the activity being induced is especially compelling when reductions in the earthquake rate correlate with reductions in wastewater injection.”

“Over the past few years, however, Oklahoma has recorded several hundred M3.0+ earthquakes per year, many of which are thought to be related to wastewater injection.”

These “induced earthquakes,” as the report calls them, “create seismic hazard to buildings, bridges, pipelines, and other important structures and are a concern for about 7.9 million people living in the vicinity of these events.”

The authors of the report include Mark Petersen, Charles Mueller, Morgan Moschetti, Susan Hoover, Andrea Llenos, William Ellsworth, Andrew Michael, Justin Rubinstein, Arthur McGarr, and Kenneth Rukstales.

Mark Peterson, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, said in a statement that the new study “shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year, whether natural or human-induced.”

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

Stay connected with the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) via Facebook, twitter. Furthermore, you can view our blogs pictorially on Pinterest.

 

Study: increased fracking traffic, increased pollution

As reported by national newspaper, The Guardian, an academic study has revealed that increased fracking traffic could lead to an increase of air pollution. The new study, published by Newcastle University was published in the Environmental International Journal on Wednesday 24th February 2016.

A test drilling site for shale gas on the outskirts of Southport, Lancashire. (image source: Alamy)

A test drilling site for shale gas on the outskirts of Southport, Lancashire. (image source: Alamy)

The research found that the vast number of trucks required to transport water to and from unconventional shale gas extraction (USGE) sites number in the thousands. With that volume of vehicles, comes an increased volume of the toxic gas, Nitrous Oxide, otherwise known as NOX.

The study found that increases in NOX were estimated to be around 30% increase against the baseline at the busiest periods of traffic.

The study created a mathematical traffic model for a hypothetical six well site over an 85-week period. They found NOx emissions increased 6% over the course of the period, or between 18-30% for hourly NOx readings at the most intense periods of activity.

“The traffic impact of a single well pad can create substantial increases in local air quality pollutants during key activity periods,” the study said.

The study also supported long held warnings that fracking traffic will increase road damage and increase noise pollution in affected areas.

To read the article in full, click here.

Cuadrilla inquiry begins, fermanagh at risk

Today marks the first day of the long anticipated Cuadrilla inquiry, where they are set to appeal and overturn the Lancashire County Council decision to oppose two of their fracking test licences.

Whilst inspectors at the hearing are expected to make decisions at the inquiry, the final decision will fall on the lap of Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, who is a signatory on the Controversial Leaked letter to George Osborne that backs industrial scale USGE in the UK.

Rt Hon Greg Clark will have teh fial decision on today's Cuadrilla inquiry. He is also a signatory on teh Leaked Letter to George Osborne that backs industrial scale fracking across teh UK. (image source: birminghammail.com)

Rt Hon Greg Clark will have the final decision on today’s Cuadrilla inquiry. He is also a signatory on the Leaked Letter to George Osborne that backs industrial scale fracking across the UK. (image source: birminghammail.com)

 

It is thought that were Cuadrilla allowed to over turn the Lancashire County Council’s decision, then this would provide a precedent for other targeted fracking areas across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, inclusive of County Fermanagh.

The inquiry is to be held at Blackpool Stadium and local community groups are expected to attend as they look for the County Council’s decision to be upheld.

 

Mark ruffalo warns cameron

In a thought provoking monologue, American actor and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo has  made an informed plea to UK Prime Minister that asks him to reconsider utilising Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction within the United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland.

The video can be viewed by clicking the link below: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2016/feb/08/mark-ruffalo-to-david-cameron-fracking-enormous-mistake-video . (source: guardian.)

The video can be viewed by clicking the link below: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2016/feb/08/mark-ruffalo-to-david-cameron-fracking-enormous-mistake-video . (source: guardian.)

Not only does Mr Ruffalo claim that USCE is a ‘huge mistake’, and that ‘there is no fracking that can be done safely’, he draws the Prime Minister’s attention to the concept that renewable energy is ‘the future economy’, and that 200 nations recently came together to decide that it is now time to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

Mr Ruffalo also also held Mr Cameron accountable to his own words, stating that: ‘you have already told your people once before that if they didn’t want it, you wouldn’t push them to take it, and you are turning back on your word.’

The Prime Minister is yet to respond to Mr Ruffalo’s comments.

Leaked fracking letter stokes fears

A government letter suggests that UK Government Ministers have backed the controversial process of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction. The letter, leaked to Friends of the Earth also suggests removing important decisions away from local community control, and into the remit of national infrastructure bodies, thus reducing the say that local communities have over USGE in their local area.

Craig Bennett, the chief executive of Friends Of The Earth, said: “The Prime Minister has said that communities would have a fair say in whether or not fracking should happen near them, but as this letter makes clear, this isn’t being reflected or honoured in the highest levels of government.”

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, was one of the recipients of the leaked letter. (image source: telegraph.co.uk)

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, was one of the Ministers who sent the leaked letter. (image source: telegraph.co.uk)

The letter was reportedly sent from the Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, the Communities Secretary Greg Clark and the Environment Secretary Liz Truss to Chancellor George Osborne.

A Government spokeswoman stressed communities will “always be involved” in the planning application process. “We are backing shale because it’s good for our energy security and will help create jobs and growth,” she said.

Below, is the main body of the leaked letter in full:

fracking-letter1_3562967a fracking-letter2_3562970a fracking-letter3_3562972a fracking-letter4_3562973a

Belfast water supply at risk

The Belfast Telegraph have reported that there is risk that local water supplies that feed the City of Belfast run risk of contamination by Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction (USGE) practices proposed for the area.

The USGE project being carried out by company ‘Infrastrata’ will be taking place 380meters from Woodburn Reservoir, Carrickfergus.

Ms. Joyce, a local campaigner told the telegraph:

“The Woodburn reservoir outside Carrickfergus supplies Dorisland Water Works, which feeds water to over 1,900 streets, from Ballycarry right down to Belfast city centre.

“Following a freedom of information request we received a map showing exactly where the water from the reservoir goes. It supplies hospitals, health centres, schools, offices, residential areas and all the eateries in central Belfast.

“We feel that the drill potentially could contaminate the water supply and everyone supplied by it should be aware of this.

“A motion has been tabled for debate in the City Hall at 5pm on Tuesday, proposed by the Green Party and seconded by the Ulster Unionist Party.

South Woodburn Resivoir. According to population review, the greater belfast area has a population of approx. 585,000 inhabitants, making it the 11th largest conurbation in the UK. (image source: doeni.co.uk)

South Woodburn Reservoir. According to population review, the greater Belfast area has a population of approx. 585,000 inhabitants, making it the 11th largest conurbation in the UK. (image source: doeni.co.uk)

“We lobbied hard for this debate to go ahead and are hopeful that it will raise even more awareness of the potential hazard the drill could pose.”

Woodburn Reservoir supplied 705 streets across Belfast, 532 streets in Carrickfergus, 576 in Newtownabbey, 59 in Larne, 80 in Whitehead, four in Ballycarry and one street in Antrim.

Ms Joyce added: “The decision to grant InfraStrata rights to drill 380 metres from our water was made without consultation.

“The right to participate and be informed is being violated. The risks of exploratory drilling are detailed and well documented and it appears that the need for intense scrutiny in relation to this sensitive site has been avoided.”

The debate is to take place in Belfast City Hall tomorrow, 1st September 2015.

The Telegrapgh further reported: “However, Infrastrata says it is committed to the project and is in discussions with a number of other parties to secure the £2.8m lost by Larne Oil and Gas pulling out. Infrastrata also said that all the “regulatory approvals and other permits” were in place for work to begin this winter, but the company added that the timing depended on getting a drilling slot for the rig and completing the funding.”

To read the article in full, click here.