We talk a little more in depth about fracking. Chairman of Illamasqua, Joseph Corré, is passionate about protecting our environment and here he tells us the in-depth issues surrounding the trade…
“The issues with the technology generally fall into the following Health. The chemicals used in the process which are both released into the air we breathe contaminate our water supplies and leak from the surface of the drill pad, and the heavy metals toxins and radioactive materials that are brought back to the surface from deep underground due to the drilling process have been proved to cause a large collection of dire medical conditions, including, lung and breathing disorders and diseases, rare forms of brain cancer, nose bleeds, headaches, skin rashes, many forms of stomach and intestinal diseases, cancers and birth defects in children.
Once a drill site has been mined of its gas deposits a lot of the toxic material is re injected into the well plugged with a concrete cap and abandoned. During the re injection of the toxic fluid is the time when most of the earthquakes are caused due to the lubrication of fault lines in the earth. Fault lines also create pathways for the fluid to contaminate aquifers and our drinking water. The industry data shows that these wells leak, 15% of them leak immediately 50% leak within the first 15 to 20 years and all of them leak eventually. There is currently no obligation for any monitoring of the integrity of any of these wells. The rest of the toxic fluid has to be taken away and ‘cleaned ‘ however what you end up with from the ‘cleaning process ‘ is some low toxicity water which can be partly treated by the sewage system and some concentrated highly toxic waste. In fact millions of tons of toxic waste. This currently has no home to go to aside from landfill. In the UK we are already over capacity for landfill and if you would like to know more about the risks that poses check out truthaboutzane.com where a 7 year old boy was gassed to death in his home and his father became a paraplegic due to flood water mixing with toxic waste landfill next to his home. The family is still waiting for a death certificate for their son because the environment agency don’t want to admit the cause of death because it was their fault and they did not warn or protect the family.
The fracking process itself is the high pressure explosions created underground to shatter the shale rock formations. The oil and gas industry has used small explosions for many years to stimulate wells however the difference now is the sheer scale of how they are used combined with the high volumes of toxic fracking fluid and horizontal drilling techniques. The drilling process starts by drilling a vertical borehole down to the depths of the shale layer and then turning the drill horizontal and drilling in any direction for distances up to 10 miles like an octopus underground. The government has recently passed a law that allows companies to do this under our homes, farmland, schools etc without needing our consent.
Once a well has been exhausted of its gas or oil and abandoned the whole rig is moved a few miles and the process is started again, in areas of the United States entire landscapes have been decimated.
As pointed to above natural geological Fault lines are very important and potentially very dangerous to the fracking technology in that they create pathways for toxic fluid and cause earthquakes. The UK geology is very very old in fact millions of years older than the USA and we have on average 500 times more fault lines in the UK than the USA for the equivalent landmass, so fracking is particularly dangerous here.
Environment, the main gas that is mined through fracking is methane, and it leaks from every part of the fracking process, in some cases in the USA it is simply released into the atmosphere in huge quantities so the companies can reach the more profitable oil beneath. Methane is a greenhouse gas and it is 80 to 100 times worse than co2 for trapping heat in the atmosphere over a twenty year period. The leakage rate of methane from fracking needs to be less than 3% in order for fracked gas to be a cleaner energy than coal in terms of our carbon emissions. Current estimates in the USA are showing leakage rates of between 6 and 9 % making fracking far worse than coal for our environment and global warming.
Economics, there has been much propaganda suggesting fracking will bring down energy bills however the cross party parliamentary committee set up to investigate this came back very clearly saying fracking would have no effect in bringing down energy prices. People also need to realise that the government proposes to massively subsidise the industry through our taxes and is currently in the process of handing out 33 billion worth of government backed loan guarantees for fracking infrastructure projects , which basically means when it all goes wrong we the taxpayers will pick up the bill. This is at the same time as they are placing all kinds of obstacles in the way of renewable energy projects and cutting subsidies to them. Also worth bearing in mind here that actually they have no idea of how much gas they can actually extract even if they find it ! And they won’t know for twenty years !
You are probably aware of the scientific fact that the world has to stop temperatures rising by two degrees over the next 20 years or so in order to stop catastrophic runaway climate change and in order to do this we need to stop burning fossil fuels. The IPCC ( all the climate scientists ) says that 80% of all the known fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground in order to achieve this. That is KNOWN reserves not new ones ! So with the governments policy of going ” all out for shale ” we could easily find ourselves in 20 years time breaking all our climate change commitments , wasting huge amounts of money on fossil fuel development that cannot be utilised , totally unprepared with regards to renewable energy( note that Germany has gone all out for renewables and currently supplies 50 % of its electricity from renewable sources which by the time they have finished the job will massively reduce their energy prices) and the British people will have to pay the consequences. Also worth noting that fracking sites are pretty horrible places to live near. 24 /7 arc lighting, burning methane , over 100 large truck journeys in and out of the site each day , smells and noise, chemical airborne toxins very dangerous for health , explosions toxic spills etc. As a consequence property values nearby suffer anything from a 10 to 100% devaluation ( who would choose to live next to one ? ) estate agents are are currently talking about an average 25% drop in prices, think for a moment what that might mean for people with a mortgage over 75 % of their property value which is the majority of people. Suddenly plunging people into negative equity, how will banks and lenders view the risk of lending for properties affected by fracking , what about all the people who have taken loans against their properties for their small business or home improvements, local tourist industries and agriculture damaged by toxins( there are some real horror stories on this , check out the list of the harmed on ‘talkfracking’ website) in Australia they have fracking refugees, who have had to abandon their farms because they are poisoned, have no value and people get sick if they stay there. The economic fall out could be calamitous ! The governments own report into the effect of fracking on rural economies and property values was massively redacted ( censored ) when published supposedly for the benefit of the public!!! Now consider, that fracking does not work at a small scale, you need thousands of miles of pipelines , compressor stations and places to use it ie gas fired power stations etc for it to be a viable business you also need experts in the field training colleges, drilling rigs , chemical supplies, etc etc you can’t just do a bit of fracking and see how it goes just like you can’t be a bit pregnant. Which is why the government is licensing 65% of the UK landmass for this technology , this is not something that is going to happen in some far flung desolate corner of the UK it is going to be coming to your community and where your children play , Ruislip and streatham in London for example.
For me it is a monster on our doorstep and the sooner we kill it the better.