28 August 2012

Nigeria: Gas Fracking - Learn From Nigeria's Mistake, Warns Environmentalist

Human rights activist and Chairman, Friends of the Earth International, Nimo Bassey, has counselled Irish Government not to sacrifice the environment on the altar of corporate greed" - as was the case in Nigeria.

Addressing public meetings in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, where he spoke of the dangers of gas fracking in the Lough Allen Basin, and Glenamoy, Co Mayo, where Shell's Corrib Gas project has long been the focus of bitter opposition, Bassey warned Irish Government not to allow gas fracking to take place anywhere in Ireland,

"This struggle over the gas pipeline has been going on for a decade and the harassment of local activists is globally known," the human rights activist told The Irish Times.

He added: "I'm focusing on what communities are struggling on and standing with people confronting impunity."

Bassey blamed an "unwillingness to have dialogue with local communities" for causing most of the conflicts.

He said: "There were plans to carry out fracking - the hydraulic fracturing of rock to extract shale gas - in the Karoo, an arid area of South Africa's eastern Cape, where the wells would be up to 5kilometres deep, and there was "no indication where the water would come from", he said.

"The most dangerous thing about fracking is that the drill holes have to go through the water table, and there's a huge cocktail of chemicals used in the process. Thus, there were two levels of contamination - from fracking itself and then the handling of the waste water."

He believed fracking "should not be allowed anywhere" and that it would "lock us into further dependence on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, which is exactly what the industry wants".

It was necessary to press the Government "not to give licences, because the damage we are going to face may not be reversible", he added.

Bassey noted that oil companies "thrive in dictatorships, which Nigeria was for 30 years, where they can do things without people asking too many questions. If people here have doubts about trusting Shell, they should look at its record in other places, especially Nigeria."

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