An environmental disaster in the making

by Tracy Murray & Aidan Killian

 

According to our information sources 1, in February 2011, the government granted licenses “for shallow geological sampling” as a precursor for natural gas fracking to two companies (the Australian-based Tamboran Resources and Lough Allen Natural Gas Company – LANGCO) without informing the public. The companies have until February 2013 to forward their findings and apply for a full fracking licence.

 

What is “Fracking”?

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking”, is a method used to extract natural gas from the shale rock layer in the ground in which it is locked. Holes are drilled into the ground first vertically to get to the layer then in the direction of the layer and a liquid called “fracking fluid” is pumped into the ground under very high pressure in order to crack the ground open. Then the fluid is removed and the gas comes through the cracks and is contained to be sold on. This is called the “fracking process”.

“The fluid injected into the rock is typically a slurry of water, proppants, and chemical additives. Additionally, gels, foams, and compressed gases, including nitrogen, carbon dioxide and air can be injected. Various types of proppant include silica sand, resin-coated sand, and man-made ceramics.” 2  (Emphasis added). This toxic mixture, the exact components of which are kept as a trade secret, is only removed partly. This part is stored in olympic sized concrete pools close to the drilling site. The other part remains in the ground.

 

What if fracking goes ahead?

The exploitation of the gas in the Loch Allen basin is on the cards. It covers a large area including parts of seven counties. We would have thousands of wells all over the place for 10 years or more. We would have acres of concrete pads to contain the toxic fracking fluid.

 

The dangers to human health and nature

Fracking to release the gas within the shale rock is a very young technique, only appr. 15 years old. It is an unregulated process in so far as there are no regulations in place in Ireland. In order to do the fracking immense quantities of water are needed and to pump them into the ground tremendous pressures are needed too. The result is a heavy industry site in the middle of our  landscape.

 

Aerial photo of how this looks like in the US where fracking is going on

The effects of the remaining fracking fluid in the ground are not researched properly. What happens when this toxic chemical mix reaches the water table can be seen in the excellent documentary “Gasland”. 3  People turning on their tap water near to the fracking sites can set it alight! They cannot drink this water, neither can their animals. The escaping gases make them sick. The longterm effects are not researched. They have to leave their homes and move from the land they love. The vegetation and the animals are also affected. Fracking leaves behind a wasteland. A good summary of the whole process  by Prof. Tony Ingraffea of Cornell University can be found under below link.4  

Fracking results in:

– Endangering human health

– Endangering the water supply

– Negative impact on tourism

– Negative impact on farming

And last but not least another natural resource belonging to the Irish People is given away again for peanuts to the Multinationals.

 

 What do other countries do?

The US, Australia, Poland, several African countries and the UK have given licences for fracking. France, Canada and parts of Germany have legislation in place banning fracking.

 

 The way ahead

Groups of concerned individuals have got together and have started a campaign calling for an all-out ban on fracking in Ireland. Groups were formed, meetings held and frequent viewings of the film “Gasland” are held regularly. The idea is to spread the word to every Irish Citizen giving them the right to make up their own mind. People are coming together, communities uniting as a force to protect our country.

The French MEP José Bové5 who was responsible for the French ban has been working closely with the campaign advising that “Media” is the fastest way to inform the 5 million people in Ireland. The French had a ban in place 4 weeks after the film “Gasland” was aired on national TV. The French have achieved this with a population of 60 million! With our significantly smaller population we should be able to do the same.

 

Please circulate this article as widely as possible.

Please sign the petition

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ban-hydraulic-fracturing-for-natural-gas-in-ireland/sign.html

 

More info can be found on:

http://what-the-frack.org/  

http://frackingfreeireland.org/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Fracking-Ireland/217392378284498

http://nofrackinguk.com/

 

Footnotes:

 1 http://www.google.ie/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-  8&rlz=1T4ADBR_enIE304IE334&q=shell+to+sea+fracking
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing
3 http://www.novamov.com/video/4d0ae17d13f6b 
4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSWmXpEkEPg
5  http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_15/b4223060759263.htm

 

Tracy Murray launched the Ballinamore Free Fringe Festival  www.leitrimfringe.com in August of this year for the first time and is an activist in the anti-fracking campaign and organised the Fracking Free Fringe Festival to raise awareness. She can be reached under freefringefest@gmail.com
Aidan Killian is a well known comedian and can be reached under aidan@laughoutloud.ie

 

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