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Thursday March 08, 2012 13:12 by Edward Durand
Dr. John O’Connor and Jessica Ernst from Canada gave a series of talks on ‘The realities of hydraulic fracturing and associated health risks’ across Ireland. This is a write-up of their talks on fracking in Sligo.
How fracking works
On Wednesday the 22nd of February in the Clarion hotel, Sligo, Dr. John O’Connor and Jessica Ernst presented talks on ‘The realities of hydraulic fracturing and associated health risks’. They were over from Canada to share their concerns about the dangers involved with fracking based on their experiences in Canada.
Hydraulic fracturing, or ’fracking’, involves pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to fracture the ground and release the gas. Licenses have been given to companies in Ireland for shale gas exploration. The area covered by the licenses is nearly 750 square kilometres. Some county councils have banned it due to health risks but that could be overturned by the government. One of the companies involved, Tamboran, admitted we would buy back our gas at the market price, but denied they plan to use chemicals for fracking. This is because they are the company who plan to only do the test drilling, not the actual fracking.
There was a good turnout of concerned citizens at the event. The speakers went down well with the audience, giving very informative presentations. They have other talks scheduled for Leitrim and Roscommon.
The speakers revealed some shocking facts about what happened in Canada. They said there is no way it can be done safely. The toxins released in Canada as a result of fracking have made people, animals and plants sick, including fracking workers. The chemicals used in the process include Arsenic, Mercury, Petroleum, Ammonia and Dimethyl Formaldehyde. The EPA’s findings suggest carcinogens have appeared in the environments where fracking has taken place. The Canadian regulatory bodies kept changing their names when they were caught working for industry, one even admitted it. Anywhere between 12 and 80 % of gas wells were found to have leaked. A fracking manager in Canada admitted shallow fracking is high risk (as it’s closer to ground water). They said they would only deep frack but they did shallow fracking and the local tap-water became undrinkable. Some Irish sites at risk from fracking, such as the Lough Allen shale basin, have shallow gas deposits.
These revelations from Canada paint a picture that the crowd did not want to happen here. The question and answer session showed the local feelings towards the dangers. The debate will only grow from here.
Ed: Please see this article too: Open letter to the members of the 31st Dáil Éireann. Hydraulic Shale Gas Fracturing - Tamborans claims - Chemicals involved in the fracking procedure