Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing

Of strong concern on the environmental safety of unconventional shale gas extraction, is the possible contamination of sub-surface ground waters by extensive USGE operations. A 2011 study in northeastern Pennsylvania by Osborne et al has found that as concentrations of methane gas increased with proximity to gas wells undergoing high volume hydraulic fracturing. Water wells showed elevated levels of methane in wells located near (1 km) from the drilled areas had much lower methane concentrations. Osborne’s findings also show that in some instances, methane concentration was at a state that rendered the water explosive. Furthermore, the methane gas was found to be thermogenic in nature released form shale rock by unconventional shale gas extraction.

Fig1.

The report investigated the Catskill and Lockhaven formations that overlie the marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania State, and the Genesee group that overlies the Utica Shale in the State of New York as depicted below.

Fig2

The study sampled groundwaters from 68 private water wells that ranged from 36-190 meters deep. Measurements were taken of dissolved salts, water isotopes as well as other dissolved constituents. However, 60 of the 68 wells were tested for dissolved gas concentrations of methane and other organic hydrocarbons.

Methane concentrations were found in 85% (51 out of 60) of the drinking water wells. For wells located in close proximity to active unconventional gas extraction wells, methane concentrations found to be around 17 times higher than drinking wells located further away from gas extraction operations. Whilst the average methane concentrations across all samples were found to be under the defined action level for hazard mitigation (10-28 mg per litre), the highest observed value of 64 mg per litre is well above the hazard line as shown below.

fig3

The U.S. Department of the Interior, advises owners of wells with dissolved methane concentrations greater than 28 mg/L to “immediately contact their local county health department to obtain assistance and guidance in venting the wellhead and for other possible remediation alternatives.”, due to the explosivity of the water. As can be seen above, samples from nine active gas extraction areas meet that criteria.

Furthermore, owners of wells with methane concentrations greater than 10 mg/L but less than 28 mg/L are recommended to “contact their local county health department for further assistance and might consider removing ignition sources from the immediate area.”

However methane concentrations less than 10 mg/L require no action, other than periodic monitoring to assess changes in concentration over time.

Methane gas can exist naturally as ‘biogenic‘ gas, and it has been argued that relatively high methane in this part of the Appalachian Basin is due to natural flux of methane and is not linked to the shale gas drilling. However whilst biogenic gas can exist in waters naturally, the methane gas associated with unconventional shale gas extraction is ‘thermogenic‘ in nature. Understanding the origin of the methane is of importance as it helps determine the source of contamination.

As a result, Osborne et al had to determine wether or not the methane concentrations found in the private drinking water wells were as a natural result of biogenic sythnesis, or anthropogenic release due to unconventional shale gas extraction.

fig3.1

fig3.2

They found that the water wells that lay in close proximity to active gas extraction areas were contaminated with thermogenic methane, peaking at 64mg per litre as shown in graph (A) above. Conversely, private drinking water wells in non active extraction areas were found to have much lower concentrations of dissolved biogenic methane gas.

The task to separate methane sources and thus the distinction between natural flux and anthropogenic contamination is based on the different isotopic and geochemical compositions of thermogenic relative to biogenic methane sources. It was shown that the elevated methane in drinking water wells near the shale gas wells had a thermogenic composition (e.g., heavier) than wells located 1 km away from shale gas sites with an apparent mixed thermogenic-biogenic composition.

In regards to ethane and other higher-chain hydrocarbons contamination of those analytes were found in only 3 of 34 drinking-water wells from nonactive drilling sites. In stark contrast however, ethane was detected in 21 of 26 drinking-water wells in active drilling sites. Further to this, trace contamination of other gas extraction related analytes, such as propane and butane were also detected from active drilling areas, but not in wells from nonactive areas.

The investigation did not find any evidence of brine or fracking fluid contamination. Furthermore, they found no evidence for contamination of the shallow wells near active drilling sites from deep brines and/or fracturing fluids and salt concentrations in wells from active drilling areas were consistent with the baseline historical data and levels of radon were indistinguishable between active and inactive gas extraction areas.

In short, the geochemical and isotopic fingerprint for water measured in the shallow wells from both active and nonactive areas are consistent with historical data and inconsistent with contamination from mixing Marcellus Shale formation water or saline fracturing fluids as shown below.

table2

Leaky gas-well casings were considered as a transport mechanisms that promote contamination. Another transport mechanism considered was the formation of new fractures improving connectivity rapid migration as a result of reduced pressure.

In conclusion, the main findings of the peer reviewed report found that methane concentrations not only increased in proximity to active gas wells, but results reflect that contamination of methane gas in the water was thermogenic in nature, and therefore released by unconventional shale gas extraction.

You may read the peer reviewed paper here.

***

References

1) Osborne.S, Vengosh.A, Warner.N, Jackson.R. (2011). Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing. PNAS. 108 (20), 8172-8176.

2) USGE. (2006). Methane IN West Virginia Water. Available: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2006/3011/. Last accessed 25/03/2014.

3) Molofsky LJ, Connor JA, Farhat SK, Wylie AS, Jr, Wagner T. Methane in Pennsylvania water wells unrelated to Marcellus shale fracturing. Oil Gas J 2011; 109: 54–67

4) Van Stempvoort D, Maathuis H, Jaworski E, Mayer B, Rich K (2005) Oxidation of fugitive methane in groundwater linked to bacterial sulfate reduction. Ground Water 43:187–199.

5) Cramer B, Schlomer S, Poelchau HS (2002) Uplift-related hydrocarbon accumulations: the release of natural gas from groundwater. 196 (Geological Society Special Publica- tions, London), 447–455.

Los Angeles – Largest U.S. city to approve fracking ban

On 28th of February, the city of Los Angeles placed a moratorium on unconventional shale gas extraction (USGE), making it the largest city in the United States to do so.

The city of L.A. City council voted unanimously to ban the practice within city limits, 10-0. The L.A. ordinance prevents operation of USGE until effective government oversight and regulation is in place at local, state, and federal levels. The motion, brought forward by councilmen Koretz and Bonin will hold in place until verification that USGE does not pollute the ground waters of the city. The council curbed “all activity associated with well stimulation, including, but not limited to, hydraulic fracturing, gravel packing, and acidizing, or any combination thereof, and the use of waste disposal injection wells.”

“Until these radical methods of oil and gas extraction are at the very least covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act, until chemicals are disclosed and problems are honestly reported, until we’re safe from earthquakes, until our atmosphere is safe from methane leaks, we need a fracking moratorium,” said Councilman Koretz.

fracking-calif-map

The moratorium was met with applause. Liz Crosson, executive director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper said, “While state oil and gas regulators drag their feet on enforcing existing rules and taking adequate precaution for the health of our communities, rivers and ocean, L.A. residents suffer from what is already occurring at the nation’s largest urban oil field and in communities throughout the city,”. She further stated, “We don’t know all of the chemicals oil companies are exposing us to when they frack in our neighborhoods, but we know enough to know we don’t want them in our air or in our water.”

There will now be an attempt to introduce a ban on USGE and related activities across the state of California.

***

References

1) Reyes, E. (2014). L.A. City Council takes step toward fracking ban. Available: http://www.latimes.com/science/la-me-0301-fracking-ban-20140301,0,6285538.story#axzz2xCYvuYPq. Last accessed 27/03/2014.

2) Russia Today. (2014). Los Angeles becomes largest US city to prohibit fracking. Available: http://rt.com/usa/los-angeles-fracking-ban-290/. Last accessed 27/03/2014.

3) Sustainable Business. (2014). Los Angeles Bans Fracking. Available: http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25555. Last accessed 27/03/2014.

4) Baker, B. (2014). Los Angeles Passes Fracking Moratorium. Available: http://ecowatch.com/2014/02/28/breaking-los-angeles-passes-fracking-moratorium/. Last accessed 27/04/2014.

Californian almond farm ruined by fracking company operations

In January 2010, a farmer was awarded USD$8.5million damages by an unconventional shale gas extraction (USGE) company that had been found guilty of contaminating local waters that had accessed his farmland.

Farmer Fred Starrh of Kern County, California owns 6,000 acres of farmland that harvested pistachios, alfalfa, cotton and almonds.

Oil and Gas company Aera Energy are estimated to have dumped 2.4billion barrels of ‘produced’ fracking waste water into unlined percolation ponds on the edge of Mr Starrh’s land.

Mr Starrh noticed the environmental damage after he mixed his ground water with local aqueduct water that watered his cotton plants, before they wilted heavily. The water also killed off almond trees that he had managed to farm at 155 per acre.

Mr Starrh had considered that contaminants of the produced frack waste water could have caused the pollution. Well waters within his land were tested and were found to be positive for boron and chloride – two chemicals associated with the USGE callied out by Aera Energy, a joint venture between Shell and Exxon Mobil.

After a nine year court case, Mr Starrh was awarded $8.5million in damages by Kern County Court. However, despite winning his case against Aera Energy, Starrh appealed the court decision, stating that, as a result of the damage caused by Aera, he will need as much as $2 billion to rehabilitate his land and construct terraced ponds to properly “flush” his soil and groundwater of toxins.

Mr Starrh was in court again last year as a jury retired on 8th March 2013 to determine wether Mr Starrh be awarded further punitive damages from Aera Energy in order to fully remediate his land.

As a result of previous findings about Aera’s responsibility for the pollution, much of the case has revolved around the usefulness of Starrh’s native groundwater with regard to irrigation.

Aera’s lead attorney, Stephen Kristovich recalled testimony that the area’s groundwater has long been understood to be too salty and with too much boron to work on crops, hence the farming boom that arrived with the California Aqueduct in the 1960s.

Starrh’s attourney Ralph Wegis countered by referencing studies suggesting that at least 20 different crops can live on Starrh’s native groundwater.

In a practice he called ‘devoid of morals’, Wegis drew attention to Aera’s use of an accounting concept known as “net present value” to make, or help make, strategic decisions. By using the system, Wegis claimed Aera used net present value to determine that it was more profitable over the long run — even in the event of a jury’s award of punitive damages — to let the groundwater pollution continue into Mr Starrh’s farmland, rather than offer remediative or preventative measures.

Kristovich responded by saying that net present value has been just one of many criteria guiding Aera’s decisions, and that the others include environmental responsibility. He added, “There’s nothing wrong with using economics and using that as part of your decision-making process.”

In his rebuttal, Wegis told the jury that Aera decided it was in its best financial interest to wait rather than stop the pollution.

The jury returned 13th March 2013 to deny Mr Starrh further punitive damages, stating that Aera Energy’s contamination of the adjacent aquifer was accidental.

Mr Starrh was dissapointed in the result, “I was totally devastated, that’s all,” Starrh said. “I couldn’t accept it from a personal perspective.”

Mr Starrh and his attourney Ralph Wegis will re-appeal the decision.
Fred starrh
***

References

1) Millar, J. (2010). Oil and Water Don’t Mix with California Agriculture. Available: http://www.hcn.org/issues/42.21/oil-and-water-dont-mix-with-california-agriculture. Last accessed 17/04/2010

2) The Bakersfield Californian. (2013). Aera-Starrh lawsuit goes to jury. Available: http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/business/x837007080/Aera-Starrh-lawsuit-goes-to-jury. Last accessed 17/04/2014.

3)The Bakersfield Californian. (2013). Akern grower gets another bumper crop of disappointment. Available: http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/business/oil/x738927654/Kern-grower-gets-another-bumper-crop-of-disappointment. Last accessed 17/04/2014.

Canadian government to be sued over Quebec fracking ban

Oil and Gas company, Lone Pine Resources is currently aiming to sue the Canadian Government for CDN$250million, in response to a moratorium placed on unconventional shale gas extraction (USGE) in the provence of Quebec.

Lone Pine Resources had obtained permits relating to oil and gas extraction in different areas, including underneath the length of St. Lawrence River, an area that Lone Pine have calculated to contain between 1,870 – 3,346 billion cubic feet of thermogenic gas. Lone Pine state that the moratorium is an infringement of their right to conduct USGE under the river.

Due to public pressure and scientific studies linking USGE to pollution of air, soils and water, the Quebec Government introduced Bill 18 into the Quebec National Assembly, which revoked all permits related to oil and gas under the St. Lawrence River.

The Bill received Royal Assent and a further document, Bill 37 placed a moratorium on the USGE project in June 2011, which was then expanded to autumn 2012. The moratorium banned drilling under the St. Lawrence river until an environmental evaluation of the potential effects of USGE on the environment were in place.
frack-lonepine
Lone Pine Resources responded on 6th September 2013, with a CDN$250 million notice of arbitration under chapter eleven of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Lone Pine Resources also state that the Government of Quebec have violated their obligations under Article 1110 of NAFTA which provides Lone Pine Resources the right to mine for oil and gas under the St. Lawrence River.

Lone Pine claim that not only were they not consulted on the moratorium or revocation of permits, but neither were they compensated for any money invested into the unconventional shale gas extraction project itself.

In paragragh (10) of the lawsuit, they claim:
“The Act is a clear violation of Canada’s obligations under Chapter Eleven of the NAFTA, including Canada’s obligation under Article 1105 to accord U.S. investors with “treatment in accordance with international law, including fair and equitable treatment and full protection and security,” and also of Canada’s obligation under Article 1110 not to expropriate investments of U.S. investors without a public purpose, without due process, and without the payment of compensation.”

Continuing in paragraph (11) of the lawsuit, Lone Pine state that:

“[we] submit[s] this arbitration on bahalf of the Enterprise under Article 1117 of the NAFTA, for the arbitrary, capricious, and illegal revocation of the Enterprise’s valuable right to mine for oil and gas under the St. Lawrence River by the Government of Quebec without due process, without compensation, and with no cognizable public purpose. The Government of Canada is responsible for Quebec’s acts under the NAFTA and applicable principles of international law.”

Furthermore, in paragragh (53):
“Lone Pine Resources hold the Canadian Government to its obligations in under Article 1105 of the NAFTA which obliges Canada “accord to investments of investors of another Party treatment in accordance with international law, including fair and equitable treatment and full protection and security.”

Lone Pine’s lawsuit has been publicly condemned:

“This egregious lawsuit — which Lone Pine Resources must drop — highlights just how vulnerable public interest policies are as a result of trade and investment pacts,” said Ilana Solomon, Sierra Club Responsible Trade Program Director. “Governments should learn from this and other similar cases and stop writing investment rules that empower corporations to attack environmental laws and policies.”
***

References

1) The Canadian Press. (2012). Ottawa sued over Quebec fracking ban. Available: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/ottawa-sued-over-quebec-fracking-ban-1.1140918 . Last accessed 16/04/2014.

2) Bennett Jones LLP. (2013). NOTICE OF ARBITRATION UNDER THE ARBITRATION RULES OF THE UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE LAW AND CHAPTER ELEVEN OF THE NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. Available: http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/assets/pdfs/disp-diff/lone-02.pdf. Last accessed 16/04/2014.

3) The Government of Canada. (2013). NAFTA – Chapter 11 – Investment. Cases Filed Against the Government of Canada. Lone Pine Resources Inc. v. Government of Canada. Available: http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/topics-domaines/disp-diff/lone.aspx?lang=eng. Last accessed 16/04/2014.

4) Byrnes, D and Trew,S.. (2013). LONE PINE RESOURCES FILES OUTRAGEOUS NAFTA LAWSUIT AGAINST FRACKING BAN Canada, Quebec, and U.S. Environmental Groups Denounce Case. Available: http://content.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2013/10/lone-pine-resources-files-outrageous-nafta-lawsuit-against-fracking-ban. Last accessed 16/04/2014.

New research into fracking wastewater

A recent academic report from the United States suggests that, despite soothing statements by politicians and industry, toxic and dangerous substances in fracking wastewater are not being effectively removed by treatment and are entering surface waters (rivers, streams etc.) with potentially serious effects on the health of local people.

This report by the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) at the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), University Of Pittsburgh,focuses on the treatment of UNGD (Unconventional Gas Development) wastewaters by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and the subsequent discharges to surface waters.

In an effort to stop the discharge of Marcellus Shale unconventional natural gas development wastewaters into surface waters, on May 19, 2011 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) requested drilling companies stop disposing their wastewater through wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). This research includes a chemical analysis of effluents discharged from three WWTPs before and after the request. The WWTPs sampled included two municipal, publically owned treatment works and a commercially operated industrial wastewater treatment plant.

Analyte concentrations were quanitified and then compared to water quality criteria, including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency MCLs and “human health criteria.” Certain analytes including barium, strontium, bromides, chlorides, total dissolved solids, and benzene were measured in the effluent at concentrations above criteria. Analyte concentrations measured in effluent samples before and after the PADEP’s request were compared for each facility. Analyte concentrations in the effluents decreased in the majority of samples after the PADEP’s request. This research provides preliminary evidence that these and similar WWTPs may not be able to provide sufficient treatment for this wastewater stream, and more thorough monitoring is recommended.

The analysis of effluent samples collected prior to the PADEP’s request indicated that concentrations of analytes in effluent were above water quality criteria. Ba, Sr, and bromides are of particular public health concern. The metals strontium and barium both surpassed the federal MCL for drinking water and benzene in WWTP-3 effluent was detected at concentrations above the MCL [maximum concentration level] and EPA human health criteria.

This is a disturbing report which adds to the increasing evidence that the by-products of high volume hydraulic fracturing are not being dealt with safely and effectively. If this is the case in the United States, a country with a comparatively low-density population, it is even more disturbing for the UK and Ireland, where we have little or no margin for error.

Read the full report here.

Photograph from report.

 

 

Women’s experiences of fracking

A new study of women’s health in the rural Appalachian region of the United States reveals the extent of the physical, psychological and social impacts of fracking on their daily lives.

The researchers, who are themselves nurse-practitioners, interviewed fourteen women of between thirty-five and eighty-nine years old, living in south-western Pennsylvania, in counties where fracking is most prevalent.

Here are some of their findings, in the interviewees’ own words:

“We were tested for chemicals we were inhaling off the impalements and it came back showing that we had moderate levels of benzene and toluene in us… so it was like once we got our water problems straightened out, then we were dealing with the problem of the air… That was making us more sick, especially when the weather started getting more hot and humid,and the air wasn’t moving.”

“I just feel so unhealthy… I’m just exhausted… I cry all the time…
I don’t want to get this upset… it’s just hard watching my
kids be sick because they have always been so healthy.”

“I am stressed out to the end of my rope.”

“I cannot go outside due to the (silicon) dust that is on my
house and windows. I can’t breathe.”

“I have rashes and problems breathing from the blue ‘frack fog’.” [Woman living downwind from a pond used for fracking waste liquids]

“They drained all the chemicals out (from the waste water pits) as of two or three weeks ago. I bought cancer insurance for all of us before it’s too late, just so we are ready for what the future brings.”

“There’s power pressing down on you, and it’s all about money. You can’t fight, you can’t talk. No one will listen.”

“We live here for a reason. My great grandfather lived here. My dad grew up here. I love my kitchen. And I mean it’s just a house and my kid’s health is not worth us staying here. But at the same time, this is our house and we want to be here.”

“We had to move out because it had gotten so bad… the smell was horrible… we had terrible headaches, sore throats, burning in our eyes, nose and …  mouth. You feel like you can’t swallow… you feel like you can’t breathe when you’re outside.”

“We’re afraid to come home yet because we don’t want to re-expose…”

“Since we’ve been away from the chemicals, it’s been better… we are
trying to live in three different places…”

“There is so much noise, 24/7… There are lights all the time because of the flaring… My nice stable quiet country life has become a day to day chaos and it is unfortunate. That quiet county life is gone and it’s the reason we stayed here and lived here.”

“… just the trucks up and down the road 24/7 is a constant aggravation. They [the truckers] can hit small pets… they run over things.”

“It’s like the television show the X Files where the white trucks come in.”

“We might be country but we aren’t stupid.”

“I was accused of poisoning my elderly father because he got sick at home but improved once hospitalized. I realized later that it was the
contaminated well water at our home and I was the one encouraging
him to drink because he had an indwelling catheter.”

“It’s like living in a science fiction movie. I feel like I am stuck in a bad dream… they (the government) allow it to happen. They don’t care.”

Read the full report here.

Image by Famartin under Creative Commons licence.

Children Banned From Talking About Fracking, Forever

You may hear politicians saying, reassuringly, that there are ‘no documented cases’ of fracking causing water contamination or health problems.  This is why: it’s not that the damage doesn’t occur (the fact that the fracking companies are so keen to settle out of court shows that) but that those who suffer aren’t allowed to talk about it.  Not even when they’re only seven years old….

Read more here: ‘Frack Gag’ Bans Children From Talking About Fracking, Forever | ThinkProgress.

RSPB warns Northern Ireland not to push ahead with fracking

The RSPB, the largest conservation charity in Europe, has joined with other concerned organisations to warn the Northern Ireland Executive of the dangers of fracking.  They say:

‘Conservation charity the RSPB and two other leading environmental organisations are warning the Northern Ireland Executive not to push ahead with ‘fracking’ (a controversial method to extract gas) until sufficient evidence shows that it is safe to do so.

In County Fermanagh, the idyllic surroundings for the G8 summit, a licence has already been issued to explore for shale gas, but it is still unclear what the economic, social and environmental impact will be.

The RSPB, Friends of the Earth (FOE) and the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (CIEH) are deeply concerned about the environmental and health risks posed by ‘fracking’. The group believe more research is needed to understand the extent and impact of fracking on this beautiful habitat. John Martin, RSPB, stated that “Shale gas exploration and extraction should only be allowed within a strict regulatory and policy framework that is fit for purpose, and in Northern Ireland this does not exist.” In addition, Mr Martin continued “we believe that an independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be required for all developments here. This has not been the case for other UK sites and problems have followed.”

Co Fermanagh is known for its excellent agricultural produce and wonderful natural heritage which attracts valuable spend from tourists travelling here from around the world. Much of the local economy has been built around this and as yet it is not known what impact fracking will have on these rich natural assets. Declan Alison, FOE stated “2050 is the cut-off date given by Tamboran, the company issued with the licence for exploration. No provision is given by the company on what will happen next but as temporary exploitation, shale gas is not an answer to economic uncertainty in the long term.”

A 2007 study commissioned on behalf of nine leading NGOs and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency found that economic activities relating to the environment contributed over half a billion to our local economy and the equivalent of over 32,000 jobs. “It would be foolish to threaten this already existing green economy in such uncertain times”, concluded Mr Alison.

The controversial method involves geological risks and can be responsible for triggering earthquakes as happened in Lancashire. Fermanagh has a unique geology which is rich in caves (map in annex): the group believe the seismic risk associated with fracking must be fully assessed as this could introduce unnecessary risks.

“Shale gas will also endanger NI’s ability to deliver on its climate change commitments within the UK Climate Act3 and move towards a green economy added Gary McFarlane of CIEH and Chair of Stop Climate Chaos NI. “Northern Ireland has some of the best features nature has to offer- wind, wave and tidal. These invaluable assets should be the future of the NI green economy and developing renewable energy could create thousands of new jobs”.

France, Bulgaria and South Africa have suspended the search for shale gas until research uncovers the potential long-term impacts on human health and the environment.’

 

Read the full statement with diagrams here, and see the accompanying map of the licence area, its water catchment and important nature conservation areas here.

Beer Purity Threatened by Fracking Say Brewers


German brewers have called on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to block the extraction of shale gas by hydraulic fracturing, citing industry concerns that fracking could taint the purity of the country’s beer.

The Association of German Breweries have rejected the government’s planned legislation on fracking until groundwater contamination can be safely excluded. They say that current proposals are inadequate to protect drinking water and risk infringing the country’s 500-year-old law on beer purity.

Follow the link below to read the article on Bloomberg in full, and meanwhile enjoy No Fracking Ireland’s uniquely Irish take on the news in the image above.

German Beer Purity Threatened by Fracking Say Brewers – Bloomberg.

Merry Christmas

Very best wishes to all, in Fermanagh and beyond, from the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network, for a joyful Christmas and a New Year of peace, prosperity and hope. Special thanks to all those friends who have supported our work in 2012 and helped us to raise awareness of what shale gas extraction and frackiing could mean for our beautiful county.  Please keep on spreading the word to your friends, your family, your neighbours, community leaders and political representatives.

And over the Christmas break, if you can’t face The Great Escape yet again, why not watch the debate on fracking that was held in Stormont in September?  We’ve uploaded most of it to YouTube (watch it in the windows below) and the rest will follow in the New Year.

And finally, here’s an extra viewing of the vitally important part of the debate which shows that fracking in Fermanagh is especially unsafe and should not be permitted. Experts have stated that the separation between a fracking zone and an aquifer should be at least 600 metres. But here, we understand that the proposed distance from the fracking zone to the regionally important aquifer upon which many people’s drinking water depends, is only 500 metres. We think this is an important issue which the people in Fermanagh deserve to know about. If you agree, please share it with others.

Have a merry Christmas and a peaceful and happy New Year.