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The Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sponsoring an invite only fracking workshop in London this Friday 15th Nov 2013 as part of its long term plan to introduce fracking in Ireland. It has already commissioned research to help 'determine best practice guidelines to regulate the shale gas industry in Ireland' (all their own words). There is no hint here fracking will NOT be allowed whatever the findings. This same body though is immune from prosecution under Irish law (See Box 1 below) making a mockery of it's regulatory role.
The EPA claims the workshop is a fracking health research workshop and out of it they will produce a scientific report to be published in a prominent scientific journal. The questions to be asked are how much of our taxpayers money is being used to fund this conference, and how transparent the "findings" will be. The fear is that this is an industry biased attempt by our pro unconventional gas Government to "whitewash" the health issues connected to the industry, and to parrot the corporate line of "robust regulations will minimize health risks to communities".
The EPA has in fact already done some preliminary research into the effects of Fracking which was published back in May 2012 by a Dr David Healy from the University of Aberdeen. It turns out and Healy does not hide, that he receives significant funding from the Oil and Gas industry such as Total E&P and BG International. A reading of the particular report shows quite a heavy reliance as a reference to another report from the University Of Texas by a Dr. Charles Groat when covering the environmental aspects of fracking. Since the publication of the EPA's Aberdeen Report, it was subsequently found that Groat had not declared his conflicts of interests and it was discovered that he served on the board of the Plains Exploration Production, a gas and development company where he had over $1.6 million in shares and been paid over $400,000 in cash and stock . Plains Exploration had been issued 187 violations at 94 (17% of total) and 53 separate fines were levied at them for a total of $2,008,925. At the same time Plains Exploration contributed $118,493 to candidates running for state offices. 
At the time the when the University of Texas report was presented at a major science conference in Canada in February 2012, Dr Groat told reporters that the university had turned down all industry funds for the study. So this just confirms the pattern where the industry lobbies government and contributes to election campaigns, lies about it's involvement, completely hide the fact the break the law and are fined and then get themselves as lead authors on fraudulent scientific reports which are then presented at major scientific conferences.
In the EPA's Aberdeen report it does point out that much of the environmental hazard comes from ground water and aquifer contamination and from cracks in the borehole wall casings that pass through the water table to the depths below, but it puts undue emphasis on saying that the actual deep underground fracking process is safe. This is part of the long game to shift the focus and terms of the debate as if surface operations have nothing to do with it. A good example is this paragraph from the Aberdeen report:
Results from a University of Texas study of several incidents of possible contamination in the US show no confirmed evidence for ground water contamination from the subsurface fracking operation itself, but suggest leakage stemming from fracking-related waste water above ground (University of Texas, 2012).
And the reference to the Univ. of Texas, 2012 is to the report by Dr. Groat. The question is how come Groat did not include the 94 incidents of his own company? The wording between the lines in the above text is saying fracking is safe but it is just the surface operations and that is separate. They are not. They are integral to the whole process. Each fracking well requires anything from 100,000 to 13 million gallons of water. With all this amount of water sloshing about and going up and down boreholes and then sitting in holding ponds, the contamination is great and even more so in a country like Ireland with heavy rainfall and a near certainty that any of the holding ponds will overflow. These holding ponds hold the returned fluids from the fracking wells and they can contain a lot of toxic chemicals like: hydrogen sulphide, lead, arsenic mercury, arsenic and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) hydro-carbon compounds benzene trace amounts of radioactive material like radium, thorium, uranium. Many of these are carcinogens and can lead to chronic long term contamination or are just outright poisonous. The reason this happens is because the rock has these chemical embedded in it and they may not be oxidised as they would near the surface but they are bound up in the solid rock. When fracking happens, the trillions and trillions of cracks, basically open up the interior of the rock and these chemicals should were formerly secure within the rock now find themselves on the surface and then washed over by the fracking fluids which then flushes out huge quantities of what would normally be small amounts of chemicals and vastly raising the concentration. These then get carried in the return fluids and muds to the surface since a certain proportion of these are continually recycled. This gunk is the stuff that flows up and down the boreholes and sits around with its deadly load in holding ponds.
The EPA conference in London this week is likely to dance around these issues and ignore any reports or incidences of pollution. Part of the reason is that a typical farmer or resident who has their water supply poisoned is extremely unlikely to write it up in a scientific report and get it published. The EPA and Fracking industry will justify the lack of this as evidence that fracking is safe.
Call Out for Peaceful Protest in London: Safe and healthy fracking is an oxymoron.
The Anti-Fracking groups in Ireland are calling on people who happen to be in London to make a presence outside their conference to show that we know what is going on and to oppose the waste of taxpayers money in this charade. This conference claims: "...The aim of this workshop is to ..... will provide an opportunity to share what is known, to discuss the evidence gaps that should be priorities for research and to offer recommendations as to what actions, if any, should be taken as fracking becomes more widespread. ... ". It is more likely to be about excluding what is known and recommending further research to cover their own backs and at the same time recommend fracking go forward with the proviso that it be carefully monitored which we know from experience is largely empty words.
The EPA sponsored event: Fracking and Health Research Workshop
is taking place on Friday 15 November 2013, 9am - 5pm
at: Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SN
Proposed location of just 13 fracking wells in Leitrim showing how the fracking wells are drilled out horizontal to cover a huge area and pollute the soil and contaminate the water. This will affect crops, livestock, drinking water, fisheries and more. If fracking is given free reign then we will see hundreds of these wells all over the country.