"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
Sir, – The effectiveness of Pat Rabbitte’s announcement of regulations that include a €3 million fine for the gas drilling industry (Home News, June 9th) should be seen in the light of: 1. New York’s waterboard report which states that in event of fracking polluting its water supply, rectifying it would cost an estimated $6 billion; 2. A €3 million fine amounts to .0075 per cent of the estimated value of gas our government gave to the drilling companies.
Extensive monitoring and enforcement is promised. Elsewhere this industry, in the courtroom, has used the fact that pollution occurs anywhere up to a mile below the surface and has dismissed gas discharges at ground level as “natural”.
Therefore regulations will have to be cleverly written and data collected before drilling commences. No solution to ground water pollution and gas and ground water mixing has been found. So a complete ban on fracking is the only intelligent approach.
Mr Rabbitte promises “monitoring and enforcement” of safety standards, but his department has not enough trained personnel to inspect Dublin housing funded under the rent supplement scheme. How does he intend to inspect what is happening a quarter of a mile underground – including how the concrete tube, formed in place under typical Irish conditions of running water, is doing its job. This fragile tube is the only barrier preventing ground water pollution.
Abandoned and commercially unprofitable wells remain a possible source of pollution. Wells drilled in Leitrim 40 to 50 years ago show evidence of gas leakage. I wonder how often these have been inspected or who could be held responsible should they prove a problem in the future?
According to the latest commissioned Government report “fracking presents a manageable risk”. This would require trained personnel and a massive upfront fund to administer favourably, not just strongly worded regulations. – Yours, etc,
Carrick on Shannon,