Fracking is the practice; and it sounds pretty scary!
In this article for donegaldaily.com Dr Aedin McLoughlin warns there could be dire consequences for the environment.
Fracking – what’s the problem?
Simply put – hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a new way of extracting natural gas (methane) from shale rock deep in the earth. An options licence, planned to lead to an exploratory licence, has been granted to Tamboran Resources to study a border area that includes South Donegal. An exploratory licence would allow the company to drill exploratory wells and, if successful, would lead to an application for gas production licences.
The gas production stage would transform the countryside into an industrial mining area. At this stage, concrete pads are constructed every 1 – 2 miles (or 40 acres), each covering 2.5 – 5 acres, together with access roads. From each pad, numerous wells are drilled a mile down into the earth and then a mile horizontally in all directions. The shale rock layer is then cracked with controlled explosions.
Next, hundreds of millions of gallons of water, with sand and chemicals, are pumped into the wells at enormous pressures to shatter the shale and release the gas. The gas comes to the surface with up to a million gallons of toxic wastewater per well, only 50% of which can be reused. At public meetings in Leitrim and Fermanagh, Tamboran announced that a thousand wells would be drilled in Ireland.
The consequences – that’s the problem!
- South Donegal would become an industrialised mining area with drilling sites producing dust and smog and thousands of heavy vehicles on the roads. Jobs created would be mainly low-level construction jobs.
- There would be inevitable harmful effects on public health and the quality of life of local people.
- Fracking causes unacceptable risks of contamination of our rivers and lakes and food chain. Many millions of gallons of waste fluids remain after fracking which are extremely salty (up to 20%, seawater is 3%) and contain many toxic chemicals and petroleum products. US media reports chemicals and wastewater spilling at various stages of the process, transport accidents and leakages of gas from the gas wells into the water table.
- Agriculture could suffer – contaminants such as benzene getting into meat or milk would have disastrous consequences nationwide.
- The “green and clean” tourism industry would disappear, together with jobs in this sector.
There is no regulatory framework for hydraulic fracturing in Ireland or the EU at present. The risks of damage to us and our land are too great. France has recently imposed a moratorium on fracking; Ireland must do likewise.
Dr Aedín McLoughlin