Mark Ruffalo Calls on Minister Durkan to Stop the Drill

mrfrack750Press Release from Water Defense

Actor Mark Ruffalo has joined the chorus of voices demanding that Minister Mark Durkan stops the drilling at North Woodburn Reservoir with the risk of poisoning Belfast’s water supplies.  The situation is very grave – Infrastrata personnel have come on the land in Woodburn Forest with chain saws and are clearing the area targeted for drilling. Their operation is unlawful, without Environmental Impact Statement, without waste management plan, without proper permits.  It is time that the Minister acts!  This can’t be allowed to continue.

Actor and clean water advocate Mark Ruffalo, founder of Water Defense, and the organization’s Chief Technology Officer & Investigator, Scott Smith, sent a letter to Minister Durkan after Water Defense was contacted by local residents and organizations in Northern Ireland concerned about their water being contaminated by the drilling. Minister Durkan’s government is poised to allow unconventional oil and gas extraction with toxic chemicals 350 metres from the North Woodburn Water Reservoir that is the drinking water source for 131,000 people, including Belfast City centre. The unconventional drilling method is not safe and threatens the water supply, people’s health, and the environment.

Water Defense is a non-profit organization based in the United States that has traveled around the world testing water, educating people about toxic chemicals and pathways of contamination, and advocating for people’s right to clean drinking water. After local residents in Northern Ireland contacted the organization, Water Defense became very concerned about the ramifications of extreme drilling with toxic chemicals next to the reservoir and wrote a letter to Minister Durkan, copying other officials.

The letter notes, “It is also troubling that your Department, whose responsibility is for the Environment, is not intervening to stop this activity that appears to be unlawful given the fact that a Waste Management Plan (The Planning of Management of Waste from Extractive Industries 2015) was required before permitted development was granted and that environmental considerations have not been adequately assessed. It is extraordinary that on this sensitive site there has been no public scrutiny through the planning process and there has been no Environmental Impact Assessment.”

The letter also notes that Distinguished Professor Anthony Ingraffea, a renowned expert on unconventional drilling from the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at Cornell University, has called it ‘irrational’ for the dangerous drilling to go forward on this particular land.  It points to the fact that some of the chemicals that would be used are carcinogenic, such asBiocide T, and can cause harm to unborn children.

The letter concludes, “We implore you to protect your citizens by protecting their water. The small amount of oil and gas that can be extracted from that site pales in comparison to the nightmare that contaminating the water supply for over 131,000 residents in your community would cause.”

Water Defense is also sending water testing kits to local residents and organizations including Friends of Earth Northern Ireland and Stop the Drill campaign, and will be in communication with them to perform water tests.

For the full letter :Water Defense letter to Northern Ireland

EPA Admits Serious Flaws in Fracking Research Study at Dáil Committee Meeting

Environmental Groups & Supporters Vow to Ramp Up Campaign to Stop the Study & Ban Fracking in Ireland

Mark Ruffalo & New Yorkers who banned fracking last year due to human health risks encourage the Irish people to join the campaign against fracking in Ireland

Belcoo_fracking-ireland-campaign-risks.si

Dublin – Members of the Campaign against Fracking in Ireland, including Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Love Leitrim, Friends of the Earth, and Irish-American campaigner Julia Walsh from the New York-based NGO Frack Action attended Wednesday’s meeting of a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Energy in which TD’s questioned EPA following reports that the EPA-led study is being carried out by the oil and gas industry providers CDM Smith and AMEC. TDs rigorously questioned EPA Assistant Director General Dara Lynott and Research Manager Dr Brian Donlon for 3 hours.

EPA admitted at the committee meeting to serious flaws in the research study including:

  • That no public health research or researchers with medical expertise are included in conducting the fracking research study.  They confirmed that, as a result of this research study, EPA will not be able to tell the Irish people whether fracking is safe for human health.

  • EPA confirmed that Achilles procurement, an oil and gas industry provider, helped to draft the Terms of Reference of the study, which provide the framework for the study. They were involved in the administration of the tender process which resulted in the contract being awarded to CDM Smith.

  • EPA confirmed that there will be no public comment or participation as part of the finalisation of the fracking research study, including no external, independent peer review process.

  • EPA admitted that the study is very small-scale, studying the environmental impacts of just one fracked well.  There are no studies considering the cumulative impacts of the thousands of wells planned for Ireland.

  • EPA admitted that when tenders were sought, the evaluation committee looked for experts in fracking rather than independent researchers.  The result was that the main contractors, CDM Smith and AMEC, are present or past members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group that publicly promotes fracking.  The EPA admitted that they knew the contractors were members of the industry group but denied that this was “hopeless conflict of interest” (as suggested by TD Richard Boyd Barrett).

  • In the research study there is no consideration of greenhouse gas emissions caused by fracking, although the EPA admitted that fracking would increase carbon emissions and make it even more difficult for Ireland to achieve its 2020/2030 emission targets.

  • The EPA confirmed that they did not notify the JOC committee of the major change in status of Queen’s University (QUB’s) involvement in the research study last June.  They actually promoted QUB as a consortium member at this time, using their involvement to establish the independence of the research study.  The TDs were only made aware of the change in QUB status after the campaigners alerted them, following Freedom of Information Act requests.

“Our worst fears were confirmed. The Irish Government has given over its authority to the oil and gas industry, which is controlling the process of this study every step of the way, right from the beginning.  The abysmal failure of the EPA’s fracking research study and the confirmation of its flaws were apparent throughout the meeting on an issue that could impact the lives of millions of Irish people.  This process is beyond fixing and must be stopped in its tracks.  The question the public want answered is how fracking will impact human health in Ireland and this is not even on the agenda of the study.  It is totally disgraceful that taxpayer’s money is being used on a study that does not answer the essential question but instead is designed to support the oil and gas industry in their applications for exploration and extraction licences,” said Dr. Aedín McLoughlin, Director, Good Energies Alliance Ireland.

During the committee meeting, TDs cited the research from the New York State Department of Health that led to New York State’s ban on fracking because it posed serious public health risks to New Yorkers. The question was asked how, if fracking is not safe for New Yorkers’ public health, it could be safe for Irish public health. “I have no idea” was the answer from the EPA.

“My fellow New Yorkers and I are working together with Ireland’s anti-fracking campaigners because if fracking is not safe for New York then it’s not safe for Ireland!” said actor and advocate Mark Ruffalo. “New York banned fracking because the State Department of Health and Department of Environment conducted years-long independent studies on the environment and public health and safety risks of fracking, concluding that fracking is not safe for human health. The governments of Ireland and Northern Ireland have behaved irresponsibly in having the oil and gas industry conduct this study on fracking in Ireland. It’s always best to keep the fracking fox out of your hen house! As we have learned time and time again in the United States, the oil and gas industry cannot be trusted. I encourage the Irish people to join the campaign to stop fracking in Ireland. This study must be stopped and like New York, fracking should be banned in Ireland.”

Campaigners, including New York campaigner Julia Walsh from the group Frack Action, are available for interviews.

Victory! “No plans” for Fracking Study Monitoring

blogTenders are not being issued

Our Stop the Study campaign has had an impact!  Tenders for contractors to set up monitoring stations in Fermanagh, Leitrim and Clare and do air, water and ground monitoring for 12 months have not been issued.  And this week we learned from Senator Paschal Mooney, who asked the question of the EPA, that “there are no plans to initiate this process at the moment”.

We are really delighted with this news. Basically it stops the Research Study in its tracks.  The September progress report indicated that most of the desk research is “nearly complete” and what remains is the study of the local terrain and its suitability for fracking.  Without such monitoring, the study can’t be finished and therefore is worthless.11-06-2015_Demonstration.Dublin.Leinster.House (34)

However, the campaign is not over yet. 

On 2nd December the EPA comes before the Joint Oireachtas Committee to answer questions arising from our findings concerning the study and its take-over by companies heavily involved in the oil and gas industry.  Even since our Rally on 5th November, further findings have come to light regarding the tendering process for the  entire study.  Truly a can of worms!  It is horrifying to discover that the industry were involved in the study process from the start.  From the drafting of the terms of reference to the tendering and contract process, the industry had their grubby fingerprints all over it.

We will not let them get away with it!  North and South, Ireland is showing that campaigning can and does work.  Especially when combined with the multiple approaches we are using:

  • Research
  • Social media
  • Freedom of information requests
  • Political lobbying
  • Meetings
  • Rallies and demonstrations
  • Celebrity endorsements (Thank you, Mark Ruffalo!)

This takes hard and dedicated work but is a powerful combination that will not let the oil and gas industry desecrate this lovely land of ours.

STOP THE STUDY!

 

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