The impact of Fracking on Health: an overview Sept 2020 Version 2.1

The information below is drawn from the CHPNY compendium. CHPNY stands for ‘Concerned Health Professionals of New York State’ and is made up mostly, but not exclusively, of Doctors, Nurses & Medical Academics. Their website is www.concernedhealthny.org this very important compendium is updated every 12-18 months and is ‘open access’ to all, both researchers & public. The first edition in 2014 was 70 pages, it is now more than 360 pages of research.

Fracking in all its different names & guises is used to extract petroleum products, usually methane gas, from underground rocks, often shale or sandstone. It is very damaging to the environment but is especially damaging to human health. Two of the more common names are HVHF [high volume hydraulic fracking] or UGEE [unconventional gas exploration & extraction] all amount to the same thing.

Below is summarised a small fraction of points from current compendium which covers 16 major topics relating to HVHF. A full read of all fracking’s’ negative impacts is both very long and very shocking. The Public Health section, pages 155 to 172, reveals a litany of never-ending and wide-ranging disasters inflicted upon hundreds of communities; everything from increased road traffic accidents to higher rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea. I begin with the conclusion from the current [June 2019] sixth edition:

‘ All together, findings to date from scientific, medical, and journalistic investigations combine to demonstrate that fracking poses significant threats to air, water, human health, public safety, community cohesion, long-term economic vitality, biodiversity, seismic stability, and climate stability.

The rapidly expanding body of scientific evidence compiled and referenced in the present volume is massive, troubling, and cries out for decisive action. Across a wide range of parameters, from air and water pollution to radioactivity to social disruption to greenhouse gas emissions, the data continue to reveal a plethora of recurring problems and harms that cannot be sufficiently averted through regulatory frameworks. There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperilling climate stability upon which public health depends. The only method of mitigating its grave harm to public health and the climate is a complete and comprehensive ban on fracking.

In closing, we cite comments by epidemiologist Irena Gorski, co-author of the 2019 review of fracking’s health concerns published in the Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Global Public Health. Her words speak for all who have contributed to this Compendium:

What we found pushes back against the narrative we often hear that say we don’t know enough about the health impacts yet. We have enough evidence at this point that these health impacts should be of serious concern to policymakers interested in protecting public health….As a fossil fuel, natural gas extraction and use is contributing to climate change, of course. But before conducting this study, I didn’t realize the amount of evidence we have that it may be even worse than coal. We included this in our study because climate change has its own contributions to health impacts. These indirect impacts will take longer to appear than the direct health impacts, but they have the potential to be significant.’

Air pollution

Infant deaths rose six fold in Unitah, Utah over a three year period after the advent of fracking in the area. ‘We know that pregnant women who breath more air pollution have much higher rates of virtually every adverse pregnancy outcome that exists’. {p171}

Lower birth weight and increased premature births [both predictors of increased risk of lifelong ill health] associated with mothers living near fracking sites; cause- air pollution. {p171}

Increased congenital heart defects [and possibly neural tube defects] if mother lived within ten miles [16km] of fracking area. {p171}

Colorado researchers found that BTEX [benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene] four common air pollutants from fracking operations can interfere with human hormones even at levels below the recommendations. BTEX cause sperm abnormalities reduced foetal growth, heart and lung disease. {p57}

281% predicted increase in Volatile Organic Compounds [VOCs; known carcinogens and neurological disruptors] due to HVHF in Eaglesford, Texas. {p62}

Review of existing data on air pollutants from fracking operations ‘support precautionary measures to protect the health of infants and children’ {p54}

The John Hopkins University discovered that asthmatic patients are 1.5 to 4 times more likely to suffer an asthma attack if living close to a fracking site compared to people living further away. The study was praised by an independent scientist for its “rigorous research methods”. {p164}

91% increase in thyroid cancer in people living near shale gas developments. {p163}.

Elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found near frack sites. These hydrocarbons are linked to cancer risk, respiratory distress and poor birth outcomes. {p49}

Helicopter survey reveals that methane & VOC leakage at well heads much higher than found in earlier audits. An Engineer given his opinion on study stated ‘It makes regulation very difficult. If you have all these possible sites where you can have leaks, you can never have enough inspectors with all the right equipment being in all the right places at all the right times. It is too complex a system’. {p54}

University of Maryland study shows that fracking can pollute air hundreds of miles downwind of well pads. {p58}

Dangerous levels of benzene in air around fracking sites; Health Official states ‘The concerns of the Public are validated’. {p64}

American Lung Association states air quality in rural areas close to fracking sites now worse than air quality in urban areas. {p65}

Research estimates total annual VOC emissions at fracking sites are equivalent to 100 million cars [USA currently has 150M cars on its roads]. {p63}

University of California meta-analysis of 37 peer reviewed studies on air pollutants associated with fracking identified 61 hazardous pollutants. These pollutants are all either known to [or suspected to] cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm or other serious health effects. {p46}

The Colorado School of Public Health showed an increased risk of ill health, both cancer & non-cancer, of people living near frack pads. {p66}

Parts of Utah, previously with pristine air quality, now have levels of smog and pollution that rival downtown Los Angeles. {p60}

Albany University study shows eight highly toxic chemicals in air samples collected near fracking sites across five states. Most common were benzene & formaldehyde; 29 out of 76 samples far exceeded federal health & safety standards. Lead researcher stated ‘Cancer has a long latency, so you’re not seeing an elevation in cancer in these communities [yet]. But in five, 10, 15 years from now, elevation in cancer is almost certain to happen’. {p59}

For people living within 160m of a frack pad/well lifetime cancer risks were eight times higher than the EPA’s [United States Environmental Protection Agency] upper threshold. Elevated levels of benzene and alkanes were of particular concern. {p49}

Water Pollution

HVHF wells have significant leakage/ integrity problems in both the short & long term. Percentage of leaking wells varies from 5% [immediately], to 50+% at 15 years {p119/124}. The earthquakes triggered by fracking damage both the well casing and also the cement, further increasing the well failure rates {p123/124}. Industry has no solutions for rectifying this chronic problem. Polluted frack waste water, usually tens of millions of litres per frack pad, is lost long term to the hydrologic cycle {p168}. Leaking wells also allow methane to directly enter the atmosphere and exacerbate climate change.

Cornell University study showed that fracking fluid and the flow back water interfere with the ability of soil to bond to and sequester pollutants such as heavy metals. Thus fracking fluids may release from soils an additional repository of contaminants that could migrate into ground water. {p107}

University of Missouri team tested chemicals used in one frack area. Of the 24 fracking chemicals tested, all 24 interfered with one or more hormone receptors in humans. There is no safe level of exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals. {p107}

Many confirmed cases of drinking water contamination from fracking in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia & Texas, thus casting doubt on Industry view that this rarely or never happens. {p109}. A Pennsylvania Court found a gas corporation guilty of contaminating a home owner’s drinking water; methane levels were 1,300 to 2,000 times higher than the baseline. {p108}

U.S. Geological Survey [USGS] study of groundwater pollution at HVHF site in North Dakota found that an area of 12 square miles was the result of a well casing failure. Another USGS report into fracking states ‘the knowledge of how extraction affects water resources has not kept pace with the technology’. {p110}

Frack wastewater is the flow back water that returns back up the well after it has been has been fracked. The volume is usually between 5 to 10 million litres, per well fracked. There may be ten to 16 wells per frack pad and each well can be fracked several times. This huge volume of highly contaminated frack wastewater is a very serious pollution hazard. “There is no known solution for the problem of fracking wastewater. It cannot be filtered to create clean drinking water, nor is there any safe method of disposal. Recycling is an expensive, limited option that increases radionuclide levels of subsequent [more concentrated] wastewater. Underground reservoirs that receive fracking wastewater via injection into disposal wells, a practice that is linked to earthquakes, are reaching capacity in many regions in the United States.” {p69}

EPA report demonstrates that a HVHF well that was fractured at 1300m [4,200 feet] contaminated a water supply only 120m [400 feet] from the surface. This dispels the myth that HVHF cannot cause contamination more than 500m away. {p116}

Oil & Gas operators generally opt for out of court settlements that include ‘non-disclosure’ agreements [gagging clauses]. This strategy keeps data from regulators, policymakers, the media and health researchers and makes it difficult to challenge the claim that fracking has never tainted anyone’s water. {p112}

Stanford, Duke & Ohio State joint assessment of fracking data shows that vertical fractures can propagate to over 600m upward, thus risking contaminating any water sources. The planned area in Fermanagh will be shallow fracking. {p93}

EPA concedes that insufficient baseline drinking water data & lack of long term systematic studies limited the power of its findings; meaning the contamination the EPA found near fracking sites could be easily denied by the Industry. {p95}

Stanford University researchers document that fracking in shallow layers of bedrock, including those that serve as drinking water aquifers, is not uncommon. This is because the HVHF industry is exempt from the Safe drinking Water Act. {p106}

West Virginia EPA confirmed that three private drinking water wells were contaminated by a fracking company when it mistakenly drilled into its own well, resulting in benzene being detected in the drinking water at four times the legal maximum limit. {p102}

Pennsylvania EPA fine drilling company $4,500,000, in 2014, for contaminating groundwater due to leaking frack waste-water pits. {p103}

Public Health

MVC [motor vehicle collisions], including fatal MVCs up by 50% since fracking boom began, especially on rural roads in fracking areas. More than 27% of fracking trucks operating with potentially life-threatening problems such as defective brakes. {p170}

An Ohio ‘Quality of life survey’ of residents living near UGEE development, 100% of respondents had experienced stress issues due to fracking, these included; fear of environmental harm, dangerous encounters with fracking lorries and divisions in within the community. {p174} Stress in all its forms is widely recognised as a risk factor for many adverse effects including heart attacks and strokes.

Pennsylvania study showed more than 50% of people living near fracking sites were stressed; witnessing corruption, complaints being ignored and being denied information or given false information. {p179}

Researchers in Pennsylvania found more than 50% of people living near fracking sites could not sleep properly due to noise of operations; excess noise is known to increase the risk of hypertension and heart disease. {p173}

John Hopkins School of Public Health study found that indoor radon levels in Pennsylvania homes rising since 2004 when fracking arrived in State; radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer worldwide, after smoking. A Geochemist warned “Once you have a release of fracking fluid into the environment you have a radioactive legacy. {p130, p132} Fermanagh already has one of the highest levels of background radon levels in the British Isles and it is thus a significant health risk; any further increase in radon would be very detrimental to public health, specifically increasing the cases of people developing lung cancer.

Duke University researchers found water contamination from ‘spills’ was remarkably persistent in the environment. The bigger the spill, the higher the radioactivity level. {p129}

University of Pittsburgh study linked low birthweight infants with fracking in three Pennsylvania counties. Low birth weight is a leading cause of infant mortality. {p167}

Increase in hospital admissions seen for cardiology and cancer for people in Pennsylvania living near fracking wells. No such increase in health problems were observed in a control county with no fracking industry. {p166}

North Dakota HIV/AIDS cases double between 2012-2014, Director of disease control attributes this to the ‘man camps’ and human trafficking for prostitution associated with the fracking industry. {p169}

Yale University found that county’s with high shale gas drilling levels had a 20% increase in syphilis and gonorrhoea rate. These rates of infection continue to climb even after the workers leave. {p159}

Hospital Emergency Department use up by over 300% and ambulance calls up more than 200% since arrival of fracking industry in North Dakota. {p170}

Climate Change

The IPPC [The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] state that methane is 86 times more potent at trapping heat [greenhouse gas] than carbon dioxide over a twenty year period {p260}. Methane leakage seriously worsens climate change. The Medical community now has very strong evidence that climate change has a serious negative impact on public health, and this impact will only worsen in the future if we don’t act. Methane leakage rate is averaging at least 8% from HVHF wells, up from 6% five years ago {p261/262}. Even if a very low leakage rate for methane of 2 or 3% was even achievable, methane would still be much more damaging for climate change over the medium [20 year] or long-term [100 year] time span than the carbon dioxide produced by coal fired power stations. Thus both need to be phased out as soon as possible.


Dr. Carroll O’Dolan
MRCGP
General Practitioner.

Health Spokesperson for FFAN [Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network] www.frackaware.com

Tom White from ‘Belcoo Frack Free’ summarises the issues

Below is a video from Tom White, from ‘Belcoo FrackFree’ who has kindly allowed FFAN to share it as it summarises the issues involved and the plan of action.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL MLAs AND ASK THEM DIRECTLY WILL THEY SUPPORT THE STORMONT MOTION TO BAN HYDROCARBON EXPLORATION/EXTRACTION IN NORTHERN IRELAND. REQUEST THEIR ANSWER IN WRITING [EMAIL]. IF THE MLA SAYS THEY WILL NOT SUPPORT THE MOTION, ASK FOR THEIR REASONS,ALSO IN WRITING.

Objection to Planning Application PLA2/16 Template

Here’s a template for you to send your objection to Department for the Economy in regards to Planning Application PLA2/16:


As residents of Fermanagh, we wish to object in the strongest possible terms to the granting of a petroleum licence to Tamboran to explore for or carry out fracking in Fermanagh or anywhere else in Northern Ireland, for the following reasons:

  • The Threat – Fracking is a dirty, toxic, industrialised process which has been proved dangerous and unsuitable even for sparsely populated areas in the United States and Australia. No solution to the problems of leaky wells and waste water disposal has yet been found anywhere.
  • The Applicant – The companies involved in the fracking process take no responsibility for a subsequent clean-up. They find ingenious pseudo-legal ways, including insolvency, to walk away, leaving the wreckage to the community. Their claim to community involvement actually amounts to a combination of bribery of the weak and intimidation of objectors, dividing communities to the profit of the frackers.
  • Health – The existential health risks of fracking have been scientifically documented by the Concerned Physicians of New York State.
  • Agriculture – The reputational damage of fracking to food-producing agriculture, the principal economic activity in Fermanagh, would be permanent.
  • Landscape – One of the most beautiful landscapes in Ireland, which includes the UNESCO Geopark and many Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, would be permanently degraded by fracking.
  • Tourism – Fermanagh’s second most important economic activity would never recover from the known effects of fracking: visual degradation; pollution of its pristine waterways; and the endless lorry traffic on its country roads.
  • Jobs – Technical supervisors would be imported. The few jobs for local people would be limited to driving lorries and manual labour.
  • Climate Change – The UK Government has recently published its highly necessary policy and timetable to achieve zero carbon emissions. In the light of this, to grant a licence to produce a highly suspect fossil fuel would be nothing short of reckless.
  • Political responsibility – For all the above reasons, this matter must be treated with the utmost political seriousness. It would be totally improper, if not illegal, for it to be shuffled through by a civil servant in the temporary absence of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

[Your name]
[Your address]


Send via Email to: minerals@economy-ni.gov.uk

Send via Post to: Department for the Economy, Minerals and Petroleum Branch, Room 9, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3SB

Deadline: 5th July 2019

What is Fracking

What do the industry’s words and phrases really mean?

‘Conventional’ gas or oil is held between layers of rock and can be extracted quite easily by drilling a normal well.

‘Unconventional’ gas or oil is trapped tight in small holes and cracks inside certain rocks, so it can’t be extracted by ordinary drilling. To get at the gas or oil the drilling companies have to shatter the rock.

Shale is a sedimentary rock which contains this ‘unconventional’ gas (methane). In Fermanagh the shale layer is quite close to the surface, at around 500 – 1200 metres underground. In other countries, shale containing gas tends to be much deeper, e.g. in the USA it is usually between 2500 and 4000 metres below the surface.

Traditional fracking is a technique used since the 1940s to flush out conventional gas and oil, typically using around 80,000 gallons of water per ‘frack’. It was used in Fermanagh in the 1980s and in 2001 on a few test wells.

High volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) is a new technique for extracting
‘unconventional’ oil and gas. It was first used in the early 2000s but has only been commonly used in the USA since 2005. Unlike traditional fracking, it uses immense quantities of water (around a million gallons per ‘frack’) and very high pressure. This is the technique proposed for extracting shale gas in Fermanagh.

Slickwater or fracking fluid is the mixture of water, sand and chemicals pumped at high pressure down well bores (pipes) to shatter the rock beneath. Some of the methane inside the rock will escape into these pipes and up to the surface.

Horizontal drilling is used with HVHF to allow operators to frack large underground areas.

Multi-well pads allow the operators to drill several wells on a single site, with horizontal bores extending in all directions. The plan for Fermanagh is to have at least sixty of these sites, each with twenty-four wells.

Flowback fluid is the liquid left after the fracking process – a mixture of fracking fluid, high concentrations of salt and other substances such as heavy metals and benzene. Some of this will stay underground and some will return to the surface.

If more information on Fracking, click here.

FFAN response to FODC Local Development Plan

Below is the FFAN response to the FODC Local Development Plan. This response was sent to the Planning Department & all FODC Councillors on 28 November 2016

RESPONSE  TO  FODC  LOCAL  DEVELOPMENT  PLAN.   NOV.  2016

On 3rd October 2016 the draft documents ‘Fermanagh & Omagh Community Plan [FOCP]’ and ‘Local Development Plan [LDP]’ were published by the Fermanagh & Omagh District Council [FODC]. These documents have been open for an eight week period of public consultation that ends on Monday 28 November.

In 2015 FFAN [Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network] and many groups and individuals took part in the community engagement process to help draft what the people of this council area wanted to see in those plans. A strong cross-community consensus came from those meetings that the exploration and extraction of oil or gas from shale rock [commonly known as fracking] was incompatible with the sustainability remit inherent in both the FOCP and the LDP.

FFAN have studied the LDP paper and found that the wording used to oppose fracking is much weaker than was demanded by the Public at last years consultations. FFAN and many other groups and individuals have been involved in the current round of  ‘consultations’ last month and we state yet again that the LDP is not reflecting the wishes as clearly expressed by the public.

Many reasons exist to show that fracking will be detrimental to both the health & economy of the FODC area.

Attached are:

  1. a synopsis of health issues & fracking from the Irish College of General Practitioners Forum Journal. also see link   http://www.icgp.ie/assets/93/C9E3CD95-DD94-5BAE-F22851597666F0F4_document/Fracking.pdf
  2. summary of the report by the Economist Dr Brenna O’Roarty presented last year at a conference in Fermanagh on Fracking.
  3. See www.concernedhealthny.org [Concerned Health Professional of New York] for the ever growing compendium of scientific evidence linking fracking to ill health. Fourth edition came out this month.

For all the above reasons FFAN request that a total prohibition on Fracking is clearly stated in the FODCs LDP.

FFAN request the following three changes in the LDP to be incorporated int the final draft.

1) Section 8.8. [page 65] the proposed definition of short term as explained in Option 2 should be shortened from 15 to 5 years.

2) Q9b [page 68]  ‘ Are there any other areas that should be considered as ACMDs [ Areas of Constrained Mineral Development]? ‘ Our [FFAN] answer is ‘ Yes, the whole of the FODC area should become an ACMD.’

3) Section 12.30 [page 97] This section dealing with fracking is not explicit enough in its’ opposition to Fracking. The FODC should have a presumption of a total prohibition on Fracking in the FODC area.

Thus the following wording should be used to replace the current single sentence in section 12.30.

“The local development plan includes the presumption against unconventional hydrocarbon exploitation in line with the Strategic Planning Policy Statement. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will oppose the granting of petroleum exploration licenses over target strata described as shales, mud-stones, coal seams and ‘tight’ sandstone formations. There will be a presumption against planning applications associated with the exploration and/ or development of petroleum resources situated in shales, mud-stones, ‘tight’ sandstone formations and coal seams.”

Thank you.

Dr Carroll O’Dolan, on behalf of FFAN

Advice to members regarding Tamboran’s Injunction

Tamboran have taken out an injunction covering activities at the Acheson & Glover quarry near Belcoo. Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network is named in this injunction and therefore committee members and you as members of FFAN need to be aware of the consequences of any breach of the injunction. The injunction states that we are not to enter the quarry site, obstruct works, or interfere with the people carrying out works on behalf of Tamboran.

FFAN

Members of FFAN are reminded of our Vision, Aims, and Values and if these are followed we are less likely to have a problem with the injunction.

It is also important to follow any other codes of conduct that may be in operation at gathering/vigils etc.

FFAN is a cross community network of individual Fermanagh residents. It is not affiliated to any political party or other organisation but works with a broad range of groups and individuals who are concerned about the risks of hydraulic fracturing, both domestic and international.

Our Vision
County Fermanagh as an inclusive, progressive and vibrant county where its people and resources are respected, regenerated and sustainably managed and developed and where communities are healthy and prosperous, a great place to bring up families in a clean and unspoilt environment. We want this vision to be sustainable for the generations that follow.

Our Aims
The Aims of the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network are to:
1. Raise awareness of the risks associated with unconventional oil and gas exploration and extraction using high volume hydraulic fracking in Fermanagh and wider areas, and undertake advocacy and research work in response to emerging needs;
2. Encourage the safeguarding and sustainability of public health, agriculture, tourism, waterways, sustainable energy resources and the natural environment.
3. Help establish and support the development and empowerment of local affiliated groups, and liaise with appropriate national and international networks.

Our Values
1. FFAN is a cross-community network of individual Fermanagh residents. It is not affiliated to any political party or other organisation but works with a broad range of groups and individuals who are concerned about the risks associated with unconventional oil and gas extraction using high volume hydraulic fracking.
2. FFAN is a single issue group
3. FFAN will seek to inform and engage with communities, individuals, organisations and politicians in a manner which will be respectful and challenging
4. FFAN is committed to an ethos which is non-confrontational/non-intimidating/non-violent

Security in place at belcoo drill site

The Impartial reporter have confirmed that security measures have been put in place around the Acheson and Glover Quarry, where Tamboran Resources propose to carry out a bore drill.

tamboran security

The Impartial states:

Workers were busy clearing the site in preparation for drilling and a security firm was erecting fencing. There are a number of Alsation dogs on site too.
Early this morning (Monday) Tamboran officials visited Belcoo homes issuing letters and information leaflets, outlining its intention to drill nearby.
A protest has been organised at the site at 7pm this evening, with local anti-fracking protestor Donal Ó Cófaigh stating: “A community that has never been consulted about whether it wants to be fracked have yet again been treated in the most disrespectful manner by the company who want to PROFIT from this poisonous industry.”
These preparations are getting underway despite Environment Minister Mark H Durkan’s statement earlier today that questioned whether Tamboran has permitted development rights to drill its borehole. He said: “Before the company is given permission to proceed, a full screening process under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations will be required … If any aspect of this development is likely to have a significant environmental impact, permitted development rights will not apply. I have instructed officials to consider carefully whether or not these rights apply.”
Meanwhile, Tamboran has said that the proposed scientific borehole will be about 15cm (6 inches) across and around 750 metres deep. It will be drilled using “standard techniques and materials.” The drilling operation will be completed in approximately 30 days and rock samples will be examined on site and subsequently sent for laboratory ANALYSIS to better understand its content.
Director of Tamboran Resources (UK) Dr Tony Bazley has said: “People have a right to the facts and that is what we are seeking to establish.”

To access the article, click here.

Tamboran to drill belcoo site by late august

It has been reported by the Impartial Reporter that Tamboran Resources are to begin their borehole drill in late august, amidst the news that equipment had arrived in the early hours of this morning.

FFAN

The Impartial Reporter state:

The scientific borehole will be about 15cm (6 inches) across and around 750 metres deep and will be drilled in a Belcoo site owned by Acheson and Glover’s (but not in its main Belcoo plant). There will be no fracking ivolved
Tamboran officials are on the ground in Belcoo this morning speaking to locals about their plans for fracking. The company says that it will NOT frack the Acheson and Glover site in the future.
In a statement released this morning a Tamboran spokesman said:Tamboran has today informed the Department of Environment and the Department of Enterprise, TRADE and Investment of its detailed plans to carry out this work before 30th September 2014. If granted permission to proceed, the company hopes to be able to commence drilling operations in late August.
The proposed scientific borehole will be about 15cm (6 inches) across and around 750 metres deep. It will be drilled using standard techniques and materials. The drilling operation will be completed in approximately 30 days and rock samples will be examined on site and subsequently sent for laboratory analysis to better understand its content.
The rock samples will be analysed to help confirm the presence of a natural gas source in County Fermanagh. This will enable the company to determine if it will be possible to extract the gas at a much later date, subject to full planning approval.
Making the announcement, Dr Tony Bazley, Director of Tamboran Resources (UK) Ltd said:
“Tamboran’s intention at this stage is only to verify that the elements necessary for natural gas and its recovery are contained within the shale in County Fermanagh. This is fact-finding, not fracking. If County Fermanagh is home to a significant natural gas resource that could provide Northern Ireland with decades of a local secure energy supply then we believe the people have a right to know.
“We believe that the presence of natural gas in Northern Ireland could bring considerable benefits to the local and regional economy with the potential for billions of pounds of investment; hundreds and potentially thousands of jobs created locally and importantly for Northern Ireland a secure supply of energy that could last for decades and potentially help reduce local energy costs. However, we first need to make sure enough gas is there to be commercially viable and that we will not know for certain until the end of the licence period. This is just the first stage in that process,” said Dr Bazley.
The spokesman added: “The site near Belcoo, County Fermanagh is in an enclosed commercial area already used for heavy industrial purposes that will have limited visual impact. It will be secured on a 24/7 basis and the company will be taking all appropriate precautions to ensure the site is safe for workers and crucially local people. The company can also confirm that it will not seek to ‘frack’ on this site at any time in the future.”
Dr Bazley continued: “If the indications are that there is not enough natural gas that can be released from the shale rock then we will know this quickly and almost certainly decide not to continue with our investment in Northern Ireland. If we find a significant gas resource is likely we will continue to the end of the licence term in 2016. Before the end of the licence term a single site would be tested for natural gas if given planning permission.”
“Any future application will be subject to the strictest environmental, health and safety standards and the public would have their opportunity to participate. This however, is still a long way off and ultimately any decision to use hydraulic fracturing will be made by the Government of Northern Ireland.
“We suggest that given the potential benefit this can bring to everyone in Northern Ireland that this deserves serious consideration and debate. We would ask that people approach with an open mind and willingness to listen to all the facts before making an informed decision. We believe the people and Government of Northern Ireland have a right to know if there is gas beneath our feet. People have a right to the facts and that is what we are seeking to establish.”

To vies the article, click here.

Texas oil and gas regulators refuse to talk to media

It has been reported by the Associated Press that the Texas Oil and Gas regulators have implemented a blanket policy that bans staff from media engagements, raising questions into the level of transparency given by regulators to teh public in relation to unconventional shale gas extraction.

The Associated Press state:

“The three-member Texas Railroad Commission, which is one of the largest state agencies of its kind in the country, approved the policy in August 2012, shortly before Milton Rister took over as the commission’s executive director. Since then, he has used his authority to funnel all media inquiries through a spokeswoman who responds via email and bars any direct access to staff.

The commission, which also regulates pipelines and mining, devotes much of its time to permitting oil and gas drilling and production, ensuring wells are safe and investigating complaints or problems at those sites.

For a Texas agency to ban all media interviews is unusual. Typically, the media relations department is not the source of information, but rather acts as a liaison to connect journalists with the staff they need to speak with for a particular story.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a state agency whose responsibilities often overlap with the Railroad Commission, routinely grants interviews with staff members who are scientists and experts. The General Land Office, which is responsible for offshore oil spill cleanup, also allows staff to speak with the media.

“There needs to be some rationale behind the Railroad Commission or any agency to outweigh the public’s right to be informed,” said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat who is on the Texas Legislature’s Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee.”

For access to the full article, click here.

‘Lancet’ medical journal raises detrimental health implications of fracking

One of the world’s oldest and best known peer-reviewed medical journal, The Lancet, released a paper highlighting the realised risks that unconventional shale gas extraction poses to public human health.

lancet

The Lancet states that despite scientific study of the health effects of fracking being in its infancy, “findings suggest that this form of extraction might increase health risks compared with conventional oil and gas extraction [due to] larger surface footprints of fracking sites; their close proximity to locations where people live, work and play; and the need to transport and store large volumes of materials.”

The article further states that investigation into unconventional shale gas extraction in the USA has shown that, “risks of environmental contamination occur at all stages in the development of shale gas extraction.”

Problems with the structural integrity of the process, which is planned for county Fermanagh include: failure of well cement and casing, surface spills and leakage from above ground storage, gas emissions from gas processing equipment, and the large number of transport vehicles involved with transporting large volumes of chemicals.

The article draws attention and concern to detrimental health effects locally and globally. Locally, environmental contaminants such as volatile organic compounds, tropospheric ozone, diesel particulate matter, benzene, hydrocarbons, endocrine disrupting chemicals and heavy metals.

Source: aljazeera.com
The practice of unconventional shale gas extraction, otherwise known as fracking, has drawn criticism as a result of the negative impacts on human health and the environment. (Image source: aljazeera.com)

Globally, environmental threats to public health is the “contribution of shale gas extraction to green house gas emissions, and thus, climate change.”

In conclusion, the Lancet have recommended the implementation of Health Impact Assessments (HIA) that take into consideration not only public health risks during development of unconventional shale gas extraction, but the legacy left for public health over the long term also.

If you wish to read the peer reviewed article titled, “The health implications of fracking”, click here.