Children Banned From Talking About Fracking, Forever

FRACK GAG

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.

Fracking in Fermanagh – the film

The premiere of the film Fracking in Fermanagh: What could it mean?, made by local young people and facilitated by the Development Media Workshop, was a  great success.  As Meadhbh Monahan writes in this week’s Impartial Reporter:

“The Ardhowen Theatre was sold out on Tuesday night with gasps and angry exclamations heard in reaction to what was shown on screen.

The film narrator explains that Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster was approached twice for an interview but declined. This was met by boos and shouting from the crowd. During a panel discussion after the film, Enniskillen actor Ciarán McMenamin said: “It’s good to see that our young people have our interests at heart, even if our politicians do not.”

The majority of Fermanagh folk are not aware of the magnitude of what fracking involves, the audience heard.

 

Tamboran Resources plans to create 60 fracking pads in Fermanagh (each pad will be about seven acres in size, and concreted), one mile apart, covering 40,000 acres.

“This will have a terribly detrimental affect” on Fermanagh changing it from a scenic, rural area into a heavily industrialised zone dotted with frack pads, the audience heard.

During the film, local farmer John Sheridan, who lives in the shadow of Cuilcagh mountain, says that chemicals brought up from deep underground during the fracking process are very likely to spill into our ground water, thereby leaking into our lakes and rivers and subsequently into our food chain. These chemicals could also evaporate from ponds on the frack sites, causing air pollution.

He is backed up by Jessica Ernst who says: “They are bringing up unknowns that have been locked underground for millennia,” including naturally occurring heavy metals and radioactive materials such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, thorium and uranium (all carcinogens which can cause cancer and respiratory diseases in humans). Air may also be contaminated by volatile chemicals released during drilling (combustion from machinery and transport) and from other operations, during methane separation or by evaporation from holding ponds, Jessica Ernst points out.

John Sheridan concludes: “Farming or fracking; it’s going to be one or the other.”

A major problem is fracking waste, the film continues. This wastewater not only contains the toxic and hazardous chemicals used in fracking fluid but also contains contaminants that it picks up from deep within the earth, most notably heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, salty brine and radioactive materials.

“In Alberta, money was given to farmers to spread this waste on their land,” Jessica Ernst says. Photos of this waste spreading process were met by gasps of shock by the audience. “What becomes of the drilling waste is a big hole in the story that fracking companies are not telling us,” she states.

Belcoo father-of-five Sean Sweeney tells film-makers that he needs to feed his family so he was initially happy to hear of the potential fracking jobs coming to Fermanagh. However, after researching the process, he says: “No way. These people are dealing with toxic waste and chemicals. Why would I expose myself and my family to that?” He says if Fermanagh allows Tamboran to frack, locals will have ruined the landscape for future generations and will have noone to blame but themselves. He received laughs and applause when he quipped that the new Ulster Way brochures would have to state: “Here’s your gas mask, mind the lorries and enjoy your walk!”

Terry McGovern Chairman of the Lough Melvin Anglers Association is worried about copious amounts of water being taken from Lough Melvin and then pumped back in. “What state is it going to be in?” He worries that the approximate 700-800 jobs in the local fishing industry could be jeopardised if fracking gets the go-ahead.

Local caver Tim Fogg takes viewers to St. Patrick’s Holy Well in Belcoo where water rises from an underground spring at 45 litres per second. He points out that very little is known about where these springs originate, adding: “It doesn’t add up that you can just move into the area and drill without knowledge of the hydrology of the area.”

Canadian environmental scientist Jessica Ernst, who has experienced fracking near her farm in Alberta for the past 10 years, says: “I thought not being able to trust my drinking water was the worst affect of fracking but it’s the division of the community. The promise of money to some makes them obedient. I have witnessed heartbreaking betrayals on neighbours. Rural communities no longer take care of themselves as they used to. Whereas before they could fix the roof of their community centre themselves, now they are running to the company looking for money. There’s a loss of pride.”

She also warns farmers of the “dire impact” of fracking, saying: “Be careful what you believe. Farmers in Alberta had to fight for the money they were promised.” In addition, farmers in Alberta were left liable for the gas mitigation from frack sites, meaning they could not use the land once the frackers left, but were still responsible for the clean up.”

To read the article in full, please follow the link below:

Film premiere outlines ‘devastating’ effects of fracking on rural communities / Impartial Reporter / News / Roundup.

If you haven’t seen the film yet, would like to see it again, or would like to recommend it to others, it is now available to view online at  www.frackinginfermanagh.info/

 

 

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.

Judge rules that fracking risks were illegally overlooked

A court in California has ruled that the issuing of oil and gas leases broke the law because it did not take into account the dangers of fracking, including potential water contamination .  The leases cover 2500 acres of land and are estimated to contain 64% of the United States’ shale oil reserves.  Like shale gas, shale oil is only economically obtainable by using high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  The court found that the Bureau of Land Management violated US environmental law by not carrying out a full environmental impact study.  It was also pointed out that the exploitation of fossil fuels such as shale oil and gas are in conflict with California’s policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow down catastrophic climate change.

We hope that this cautionary tale will warn our own administration not to make hurried, costly and dangerous decisions that will threaten the economic, health and environmental futures of the people of Fermanagh and Northern Ireland.  Visit our What can I do? page to find out more about how you can make your voice heard.

Read the full article here: Judge rules administration overlooked fracking risks in California mineral leases | Reuters.

[picture from the Reuters article, copyright Reuters/Marco Anzuoni]

 

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.

 

Tyndall updated report

John Tyndall, the great (Irish born) 19th century physicist

The updated Tyndall Centre report on the environmental and climate change impacts of shale gas extraction has recently been released, and makes for sobering reading (which is why we’ve added a picture of Prof. Tyndall’s whiskers to cheer you up).  The key conclusions of the report are as follows:

1.There is little to suggest that shale gas will play a key role as a transition fuel in the move to a low carbon economy. … At the global level, against a backdrop of energy growth matching, if not outstripping, that of global GDP and where there is currently no carbon constraint, the exploitation of shale gas will most likely lead to increased energy use and increased emissions resulting in an even greater chance of dangerous climate change.

2. UK Government commitments on climate change require major investment in zero and very low carbon technologies; this is likely to be delayed significantly by the exploitation of shale gas.

3. Without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas is likely to increase total emissions. … (I)n this energy-hungry world, with GDP growth dominating political agendas and no effective and stringent constraint on total global carbon emissions, the exploitation of an additional fossil fuel resource will likely feed increased energy use and an associated rise in emissions.

4. Evidence from the US suggests shale gas extraction brings a significant risk of groundwater and surface water contamination and until the evidence base is developed a precautionary approach to development in the UK and EU is recommended… An analysis of substances that have been used in the US suggests a significant number with toxic, carcinogenic, radiological or other hazardous properties.

5. Requirements for water in commercial scale shale gas extraction could put pressure on water supplies at the local level in the UK. Shale gas extraction requires high volumes of water. Given that water resources in many parts of the UK are already under pressure, this water demand could bring significant and additional problems at the local level. Conversely volumes of contaminated wastewater returning from wells will require careful disposal.

6. Exploiting shale gas within the UK is likely to give rise to a range of additional challenges. The UK is densely populated and consequently wells associated with commercial scale shale gas extraction will be relatively close to population centres. The proximity of such extraction will give rise to a range of local concerns for instance, high levels of truck movements on already busy roads and the potential for seismic disturbances, that require meaningful engagement, assessment, regulation and enforcement.

The full report, together with the Tyndall Centre’s earlier report from January 2011, is available on our Documents page.

Fracking vote delayed for the Delaware River basin

Fracking vote delayed | The News Journal | delawareonline.com.

The Delaware, on the Atlantic coast of the United States, is one of America’s largest and most important rivers, providing water to millions. Issues such as conservation, flood mitigation and development are decided by the Delaware River Basin Commission, which is made up of the four governors of Delaware, Pennyslvania, New Jersey and New York together with a representative of the US government (currently a Brigadier General from the Army Corps of Engineers).

A recent proposal to use hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas from the river basin was to be voted on by the Commission this Monday, 21st November. However, following widespread concern, the Commission has cancelled its meeting, indicating that at least three of its five members are not happy with the prospect of fracking in this vital region. This is important news, not only for the residents of the four states, but for all those worldwide who have reservations about the process. There are serious doubts about the safety of hydraulic fracturing for human and animal health, the purity of drinking water and the preservation of precious landscapes. Now even state governors and brigadier generals are coming to share those concerns. Will our elected representatives take the issue equally seriously?