August 20, 2013
Anger is erupting in once sleepy villages, and ordinary people are coming together from all over the UK with the dawning realisation that their green and pleasant land is under threat of long lasting contamination by the government’s proposed shale gas ‘revolution’.
A Green MP was one of dozens of people to get arrested during a day of nationwide, peaceful, non-violent direct actions in protest against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) plans scheduled to affect 60% of the country.
Britons doing their own research on fracking
Forty wells are expected to be drilled between now and the 2015 General Election with the promise of 70,000 new jobs and lower council tax bills. But Britons remain largely unconvinced of Prime Minister David Cameron’s claims that there is “no evidence fracking is unsafe or damaging to the countryside” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk) .
Fracking, the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure to fracture shale rocks and release natural gas, has become highly controversial. People are watching the news and then doing their own research and finding that available information tends to be conflicting.
While the mainstream media throws its weight behind the industry, people are reading up on the impacts in America and Australia: air, land and water contamination in populated areas. With up to six hundred chemicals being used in fracking fluid, including the known carcinogens lead, mercury, uranium, arsenic and formaldehyde – serious sensory, respiratory, and neurological health problems are common. (http://www.dangersoffracking.com) .
Numerous reports of earthquakes, overspills, gas well explosions and violations of the treatment of water have had a disastrous effect on the lives of hardworking Americans and caused the deaths of fish and farm animals, according to the report, Fractured Communities – Case Studies of the Environmental Impacts of Gas Drilling, by environmental watchdog, Riverkeeper.
Oil industry is acting ‘in complete denial’ says former industry executive
In the UK we are reassured that our regulatory system is very different, and one of the most stringent in the world. However, former oil industry executive, Ian R Crane, who has supported the protests, disagrees. He says:
“Extraction techniques for unconventional oil and gas are not proven and don’t work the way the oil industry claims. They are acting in complete denial. This results in the contamination of water, air and serious health impacts. The oil industry is not transparent, it refuses to divulge the exact recipe and contents of the chemical mix they put into the water and sand.
“It’s outrageous cognitive dissonance. By the time the process is unleashed, it can’t be stopped. Once the toxicity is released in the geology, it can’t be brought back. The gas can flow into porous geology and migrate into rocks and soil, causing contamination, and then into the atmosphere. Where people have been exposed longterm, health impacts manifest. It creeps up in a gradual process of living in a methane contaminated environment – air, water and food.”
It takes two to four million gallons of water per well to frack, and this is causing droughts in the United States. In Australia, the Artesian Basin is being pumped for the same process. Unfortunately, there are no great lakes in the UK, and already our water supplies are depleted. So, aside from the pollution concerns, is fracking even sustainable? In the meantime, investment continues to be diverted away from clean, renewable energy such as wind and solar power. Mass civil disobedience and localised protests look unlikely to go away until safe, clean alternatives to Britain’s energy crisis are adopted and environmental concerns adequately addressed.
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This article was posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 5:09 am