The following is the content of an email from the group CELT, based in Co Clare, it may contain information which would be of value who are new to the fracking debate.
I am writing to provide you with information (should you not already have it) about fracking – hydraulic fracturing of underground shale beds to release trapped gas which is now proposed in parts of Ireland and to highlight growing concerns about the risks posed to public health, safety and environment.
Fracking has been banned in other countries (France, Canada, South Africa and New York State) due to serious concerns regarding risks to health and safety of local population and environment. The Northern Ireland Assembly have voted (49 – 30) in favour of a moratorium on fracking and County Councils of Leitrim, Clare and Roscommon have voted to call for a ban – Clare County Council having also agreed to amend the CountyÂ development Plan to declare fracking inappropriate in the county in the absence of adequate and enforceable regulation due to the risks involved (also, see attached geological notes on Clare Basin).
The risks include the danger of earthquake (see A below), pollution of water table (see B below), air pollution (from evaporation of contaminated water), gas leakage (including harmful radon – of particular concern in Ireland) and damage to habitats and landscape.
The infrastructure involves numerous well-heads (with approx 2km spacing), each having a concrete platform the size of a football pitch plus large holding or evaporation tanks and a collection lake for contaminated water (millions of gallons used – brought in by a fleet
of big haulage tankers).
It is our opinion that the likely damage to people, land and animals would result in far greater cost and loss of jobs in the long-term than the operations would provide over their relatively short life (each well would be expected to run dry within 5 to 7 years on
average, though the whole process over a large area could conceivably continue for 20 years or more).
A) This link is the geomechanical report on the Bowland Shale seismic events in England from early this summer. Good overview of the nature of the seismic activity and the role the
testing had in triggering it.
B) This link is a USA EPA plan to study effects of fracking on drinking water. Of particular interest are section 3.3 (an explanation of the fracking process) and tables T.2 and T.3 listing chemicals involved.
Further information can be found as follows : -
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the unconventional gas boom is happening too fast, too recklessly and with insufficient concern for the potential cumulative impacts on our most critical resources â clean air, safe drinking water and a stable climate.
A number of reports have been released on fracking chemicals and associated health risks, most notably by Dr. Theo Colborn of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX). By May 2010 Dr. Colborn had identified 944 chemicals associated with drilling and hydraulic
See the film ‘Gasland’ about fracking operations in USA -
CELT supporters believe that the risks are too great and we are calling for fracking to be banned in Ireland – and at the very least for a moratorium whilst the risks are carefully analysed and weighed against potential benefits which must be compared with what can happen without fracking. Agriculture and tourism are seen as major potential growth areas and they depend on maintaining a safe and healthy environment with clean air and water and an unspoilt landscape. This would all come under serious threat if fracking operations were to be allowed to proceed and it is arguable that the short term benefits obtained from fracking would be far outweighed by the potential long term benefits from agriculture and tourism. We have particular concerns regarding possible seismic activity in proximity to caves and cliffs from the public safety and tourism viewpoint and the possible release of radon gas and other radioactive and / or carcinogenic substances in addition to the obvious concerns regarding water pollution, methane leakage, habitat destruction, etc.
Multi-national companies and their shareholders / bondholders are the main beneficiaries of fracking. Companies like Halliburton thrive on investors getting carried away with the hype about billions of cubic metres of gas worth billions of dollars. Those who are doing the
initial prospecting are only relatively small companies trying to make a fast buck – they will soon sell out to a big company such as Shell who are quite likely to sell the gas to Britain and the Continent. Any gas sold to Ireland would be at market price under current
We understand that theÂ Government is under pressure to deliver measures towards energy security but it is our firm belief that the road to energy security and sustainable living lies in the development of renewable resources rather than fossil fuels, together with investment in agriculture and tourism.
We ask that you give this issue urgent attention before it is too late.