My first view of the Atlantic Ocean.

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It is easy to believe we are each waves
And forget we are also the ocean…
    Jon J.Muth

I come from Belarus which is a land-locked country and last week, I saw the Atlantic ocean for the first time.

With the other new EVS volunteers working with GEAI we visited Sligo and saw the ocean at Strandhill. For some, the ocean is familiar but for me it was a unique experience.  However, the feeling for everybody was almost the same. The feeling of admiration and excitement with the big waves crashing on the shore.

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It was good weather, and we visited the shelly beach where thousands of shells lay on the sand.

 

People were walking along the shore with their dogs, surfers were out on the waves and all of this made a very special atmosphere.

 

The buildings – markets, restaurants and homes – have a style connected with the ocean especially with shells.

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Even the Irish name of the city of Sligo, “Sligeach”, means “abounding in shells” or “shelly place”.

So it was really a great time for us. And we are looking forward to another visit to the city and to the ocean again.

Katsiaryna

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GEAI welcomes anti-fracking vote on the European Parliament

European Parliament. Photo By diamond geezer (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

European Parliament. Photo By diamond geezer (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) welcomes the anti-fracking vote on the European Parliament and calls on communities to embrace sustainable alternatives. The vote was symbolic as it will not ban fracking in the EU but it shows that a majority of MEPs reject shale gas exploitation.

“This vote is a step forward for the anti-fracking campaign in Ireland, north and south”. GEAI director Aedín McLoughlin stated. “Fracking has been banned in New York due to human health impacts, and now the European Parliament says that it has not been shown to be safe. Rural communities need jobs and a better future, but fracking is not the way. We need to create sustainable alternatives for communities threatened by shale gas extraction” GEAI director said.

“This is exactly what we are doing 24th June in Manorhamilton (Co Leitrim) at Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities. A day of workshops and discussion where everybody will have the chance to express their views. Local communities have the opportunity to use renewable energy to improve their lives, their economy and their health. We have a chance to create jobs in rural areas and help to reduce our environmental impacts at the same time”, GEAI director said.

“Many people have already shown their interest in this event, and we hope to achieve really positives outcomes for Manorhamilton and other communities. We could be witnessing the beginning of reshaping Ireland’s energy landscape”, Aedín McLoughlin concluded.

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When is fracking not fracking?

iIPFxxAvBxysWhen an oil/gas company wants to drill, of course!

Look at what Rathlin Energy are planning to do near the Giant’s Causeway:

  1. Construct a drilling pad
  2. Drill down 2,700 metres – drilling day and night for up to 90 days
  3. “Stimulate” the well using hydraulic fracturing.  This could go on for 12 weeks, 12 hours per day and probably overnight as well.
  4. Collect flowback
  5. Flare off emitted gas for up to 14 days.

What is this if not fracking?

Yet Rathlin Energy persist in their claim that “fracking will not be used during drilling of this well”.

Who are they trying to fool?  The public of course!  And that includes you, me and everyone else.

Two statements from the EIS that must be queried

The results of the modelling exercise shows that the operation of the flares will not breach the relevant limits for the protection of human health or vegetation at the nearest sensitive receptors. (p16, EIS Non-technical Summary).

Yet, by their own admission, flare emissions can contain CO2, Carbon Monoxide (toxic), Nitogen oxides (some toxic), Sulphur Dioxide (toxic), particulates and, most worryingly of all “unburned hydrocarbons”.  The latter possibly include some real “baddies” – Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene (BTEX).  So toxic, there are NO safe levels of exposure!  When nobody knows whether gas will be produced at all, not to mind its constituency, how can anyone say that public health is not at risk?  One only has to refer to relevant peer-reviewed reports from the US to know that flares definitely constitute a public health risk.

Now let’s look at how Rathlin Energy intends to get rid of flowback waste from the well:

The paragraph starts off, “Waste will be segregated and controlled.” (p20)  Then it describes what it does with flowback: ” Cuttings skips are provided for water based cuttings. They are removed by a licensed contractor for treatment,recycling or disposal as applicable”.

In other words, liquid wastes will not be controlled (by Rathlin Energy anyway). Water-based “cuttings” from hydraulic fracturing contain heavy metals, radioactive elements, brine and fracking chemicals. What treatment is available in Northern Ireland? NONE. Neither are there licenced contractors in Northern Ireland who could take on the task of recycling fracking waste. Which leaves “disposal”. When no adequate method is stated for safe disposal and with Northern Ireland’s record for waste disposal, could anyone have confidence that such waste could be disposed of safely? We don’t think so!

This EIS raises many questions that need answering.

It is madness to go ahead with a project that includes such uncertainties and risks to human health. 

Great News! New York State Bans Fracking

In spite of huge pressure from the oil and gas industry, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation has concluded that the health risks of fracking are too great, and it will not permit the development of fracking in the state.

This decision comes after the publication of a substantial report from the Department of Health, which concludes:  “Until the science provides sufficient information to determine the level of risk to public health from HVHF to all New Yorkers and whether the risks can be adequately managed, DOH recommends that HVHF should not proceed in New York State.”

In his statement, acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker said,“We cannot afford to make a mistake. The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not even fully known.”

The following is a statement from Earthjustice Deborah Goldberg who represented the Town of Dryden, NY in its fracking ban case.  “This is truly a monumental day. Governor Andrew Cuomo has earned a place in history. Never before has a state with proven gas reserves banned fracking. I believe that future generations will point to this day and say ‘This is when the tide began to turn against the dirty, dangerous and destructive fossil fuel industry.’ This is a hard-fought victory that belongs to the brave people of New York who refused to give up, refused to give in.  Now all New Yorkers can enjoy the safety and peace of mind that the 80 New York communities that have banned fracking already have. We hope that this determined leadership Governor Cuomo has displayed will give courage to elected leaders throughout the country and world: fracking is too dangerous and must not continue.”

It’s Christmas… and Leitrim CDP time!

Leitrim County Councillors decide policies on fracking.  

Members of GEAI (in particular Aedín and Eddie) have been really busy this month. The first (pre) draft version of Leitrim County Development Plan, which was not at public consultation stage, was given by the officials to our Councillors and, needless to say, copies managed to find their way into the hands of some campaigners. We were dismayed – a whole section on “Hydrocarbon Exploration and Extraction” and the wording amounted to a pathway to fracking. No ban on fracking, emphasis on hydraulic fracturing rather than the whole life cycle of unconventional gas development and no mention of Health Impact Assessment (HIA).

What to do? Obviously, all campaigners against fracking would like to see a ban on the whole process. Many kept calling for this and said that nothing less would suffice. However, the Council officials, backed up by legal advice and the results of a court case in Mayo where a ban on mining was disallowed, insisted that the Plan could not include a straightforward ban.
So – members of GEAI and others went about the situation in a different way.

Campaigners insisting on a ban were asked to research the issue and come up with a way to include a complete ban in the Plan.
An alternative view was that if a ban could be included, that would be great. However, if a ban could NOT be included or could be overturned in the future by a Minister, policies had to be put in place that would, as much as possible, safeguard communities and the environment from any adverse impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration or Extraction (UGEE).

 This major task was taken on – the background to the Development Plan was researched and a paper was produced that summarised the background to the situation in Ireland at the moment regarding shale gas and made sure everything relevant was included in the introductory section; various people and organisations were consulted and policies were then worded that, in the view of those involved, went as far as possible to prevent any UGEE projects taking place.

Information sessions and discussions were held with Councillors to make sure that they understood and agreed with what was being proposed.
The main policies proposed in the paper can be summarised as follows:

  • Precautionary principle on all proposals for UGEE projects/operations (this includes preparatory work and deep drilling) where risks are not “determined with sufficient certainty”.
  • Comprehensive HIA on national policy and on local UGEE proposals.
  • No UGEE projects/operations unless “it is scientifically and credibly demonstrated that those projects can be undertaken sustainably whilst also fully protecting the environment and human health”.

Constant contact was kept with Councillors from all parties throughout the process. The paper was also scrutinised by Council Officials.  Our understanding is that all the policies suggested may not be accepted (for various reasons) but significantly, a Health Impact Assessment may now be included. The final draft will be debated by Leitrim County Council on 16th January and will then go forward for public consultation.

The Public will have until end March 2014 to make submissions on the draft Plan.

Full text of submitted paper CLICK HERE

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