Monday, 27 June 2011

Camp Frack - Weekend of 17th-18th September

Join the resistance to the “fracking” invasion! Stop the massive expansion of shale gas extraction in the UK! We need renewables and powerdown - not another source of fossil fuel!

Fracking operations at Singleton
Fracking operations at Singleton

Join the resistance to the “fracking” invasion! Stop the massive expansion of shale gas extraction in the UK! We need renewables and powerdown - not another source of fossil fuel!

Camp Frack will take place adjacent to the UK's first fracking operations at Singleton, near Blackpool (nearest train station Poulton Le Fylde). It will be organised with the support of a local farmer who is providing the land. It will involve locals, grassroots groups, individuals and NGO's in workshops and discussions on shale gas and on forming effective UK wide resistance against it. It will involve raising local awareness about the problems with shale gas and an action day of protest against the drilling activities currently in progress in the Blackpool area.

More details will be circulated in August regarding venue etc. To be kept up to date or for any questions email

Natural Gas Insiders Question Feasibility, Profitability of Industry

Newly disclosed figures and internal documents are raising fresh doubts about natural gas drilling in the United States. According to the New York Times, well-placed financial analysts and experts have circulated warnings about the feasibility and profitability of drilling in shale gas wells across the nation. An August 2009 memo from the firm IHS Drilling Data says, “The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work.” Earlier this year, an analyst at PNC Wealth Management compared natural gas projects to the dot-com boom, saying, “money is pouring in” even though drilling is “inherently unprofitable.” In another memo, a retired geologist for a major oil giant writes, “These corporate giants are having an Enron moment … They want to bend light to hide the truth.” A review of more than 9,000 wells shows many wells are failing to meet industry projections, with just 10 percent recouping their estimated costs after seven years. Just 20 percent of wells in three highly-regarded shale formations in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas are believed to actually be profitable. The previously undisclosed data could raise questions about whether companies are illegally inflating claims about the size and productivity of their wells. A former Enron executive who went on to work for an energy company compared the behavior of shale gas firms to his former employer, writing, “I wonder when they will start telling people these wells are just not what they thought they were going to be?”



A few months since Fukishima, nearly a year since Deepwater Horizon but the global elite aren’t resting on their laurels and it looks like we won’t have to wait too long for the fossil fuel industry to cause the next environmental apocalypse. New kid on the block is the appropriately named ‘fracking’ – or, more explicitly: hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers thousands of feet deep – and its coming here soon.

Already causing waves of mass panic across the US, fracking is a technique that involves pumping huge quantities of water, sand and highly toxic chemicals into shale formations, then blowing it all sky high with explosives in order to fracture the rocks, stick a bore down and get to the fuel resource. This energy-intensive process results in vast amounts of radioactive waste ‘water’, earthquakes and subsistence in the areas around the mines, noxious chemicals being vented into the air, and causes significantly more CO2 emissions than conventional gas extraction.


But it’s all hands on the rig in the scramble for more ‘homegrown’ alternatives to Arab oil. The recent surge in fracking is largely due to changes in the US Energy Policy Act, pushed by Dick Cheney in 2005. Known as the ‘Halliburton loophole’, it exempted fracking wells from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Act - letting energy companies pollute Americans’ drinking water without having to by bothered by pesky government interference.

The fracturing fluid contains carcinogenic chemicals, such as benzene, and endocrine disruptors – compounds which can be blamed for a huge range of developmental problems such as birth defects, deformations of the body and sexual development problems. It’s made radioactive by the presence of radium, and other naturally occurring hazardous chemicals such as arsenic and mercury, all brought to the surface through the extraction process. It’s unclear exactly what goes into this noxious cocktail in the first place as the corporations using it are keeping conveniently schtum about their recipe and, despite Dow Chemical admitting to supplying antimicrobial poisons to go into the mix, no regulator is demanding disclosure from the gas miners.

Toxic sludge from over 71,000 wells is currently sitting in huge open storage tanks and leeching into the water table in Pennsylvania, Texas, Wyoming, Arkansas and other US states. The methane that the extractors are after is also seeping into underground aquifers, causing one of the most visible polluting effects: the phenomena of inflammable water. Residents of Pennsylvania, some living up to 1km from mining operations, have water coming out of their taps that has such a high methane content it will actually burst into flames if a match is held near it. An accidental spill in the same state has killed trees and contaminated waterways, with one local explaining, “it’s killed all the fish. [The pond] turns colours different times of the day. Now it’s fluorescent orange.”

Arkansas and Texas have seen unprecedented numbers of earthquakes since mining operations began. In six months Arkansas had over 1,000 earthquakes with more than a dozen registering over 3.0 on the Richter scale, 90% of which have all been within 6km of waste water disposal wells.

Not only is it polluted drinking water and unheard-of seismic activity, but air pollution in Texas has gone off the scale. Even considering the notoriously relaxed environmental quality standards in Texas, in some towns the carcinogen benzene is at levels 55 times higher than laws allow, and neurotoxicants xylene and carbon disulphide, and the blood poison napthalene were found to be up to 384 times over the safe limits.

But don’t worry, at least there’s lots of cold hard cash involved. BP paid more than $3billion for fracking rights in 2008, BHP Bilton spent $5 billion on sites in Arkansas, and Shell have snapped $4.7 billion’s worth of assets in the Marcellus Shale formation in West Virginia and prime mining land in Pennsylvania. The Marcellus Shale is a formation the size of Greece, more than a mile underground, and valued at around $2 trillion dollars. No wonder they’re happy to pay out small change in reparations if needed, as Cabot Oil & Gas did recently when coughing up $4 million in damages to 14 families in Dimock, Pennsylvania, and agreeing to replenish the water supply after a defective well-casing poisoned the drinking water.

Photos and Video of the camp:

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