Green conference votes for moratorium on fracking

12 September 2011

The Green Party has called for an immediate moratorium on fracking at its autumn conference in Sheffield this weekend.

Fracking is the controversial process of extracting shale gas, or coal bed methane, from underground by hydraulic fracture of the strata containing the gas.

Water, sand and a cocktail of chemicals are injected at high pressure to create cracks in the rocks underground to allow the gas to excape.

In the US, explosions, spills, and toxic pollution of air and water have been reported to the authorities, and there have been calls to outlaw the practice made around the world. [1]

The Campaign Against Climate Change pressure group have planned "Camp Frack," a protest camp to be held this coming weekend near the shale gas exploration site at Hesketh Bank, West Lancashire, where drilling started recently.

And Caroline Lucas MP and Michael Meacher MP have initiated an Early Day Motion in Parliament to halt all fracking until a full and detailed scientific analysis of its impacts can be carried out. (2)

Launching the Green Party's national campaign against fracking, Philip Mitchell, Chair of the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party, said: "There are already licensed sites in many parts of the country. Collieries in Derbyshire and West Yorkshire are possible sites for commercial coal bed methane production, which may require fracking. However, large investment may be required.

"Apart from colleries, one proposed site, in Kirkham in Lancashire, is in a populated area, and the planning application is identified as being on the land of HM Open Prison Kirkham.

"The first true European shale gas fracking operation at Weeton,[3] outside Blackpool, has been suspected of causing two earth tremors[4]. These left local residents feeling anxious and angry, but perhaps even worse are the accounts I have witnessed from some residents of long and terrible episodes of breathlessness coinciding with the fracking.

"Occurrences such as these have been linked to fracking in the US as well. (5)

"Information obtained from the Environment Agency suggests that much more caution needs to be taken, with chemicals used in the fracking fluid being harmful to skin, eyes and aquatic life. (1)

"It's time for an immediate halt and a complete re-think of the government's approach to these energy resources."

Notes

For information on Camp Frack see: www.campaigncc.org.uk

 The safety sheet says:

1) Evidence from Professor Jennifer Foulk - http://www.state.nj.us/drbc/naturalgas-draftregs-hearingtranscript022411eve.pdf

2) http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/2159

3) http://www.lucas.com.au//static/File/ASX2010-2011/DrillingActivityUpdate101207.pdf

4) http://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/earthquakes/BlackpoolMay2011.html

5) http://naturalgasforeurope.com/natural-gas-fracking-drilling-health.htm

6) Cuadrilla said last January that there is no need for a moratorium and that the company is "confident that no issues will occur in our activity in the north-west of England which would cause any local or national concerns on which to base the introduction of a moratorium on on-shore drilling activity." It supported this statement by saying that the chemicals used in it's "fracking fluid" included: "a friction reducing compound commonly found in contact lenses, cosmetic face creams and in soil sealant at construction sites, a weak hydrochloric acid, and a biocide used at this very low concentration."

However, safety information on their chemicals, provided by the Environment Agency, suggests that much more caution is needs to taken than Cuadrilla's claims suggested.

For example, if FR-40 (CESI Chemicals) - a blend of chemicals including polyacrylamide typically used at 0.075% - comes in contact with your eyes, you are required to wash them with large amounts of water for at least 15 minutes.

The FR-40 safety sheet gives no information on environmental hazard - many frack fluids are harmful to aquatic life, and streams and rivers have been left polluted with dozens of different species killed due to spillages,waste disposal and illicit dumping into streams and rivers.

As well:

• Stimlube-W (CESI Chemicals) This is a polymer which may be used as an alternative to FR-40. Very similar information as FR-40..
• Hydrochloric Acid Safety sheet says:"very hazardous in case of eye contact and skin contact"
• Ucarcide (the Dow Chemical Company) 0.005%. The active ingredient is gluteraldehyde, which has been a
main cause of occupational asthma in hospitals. The Environment Agency have said that it's use has not been necessary.

 






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