Ken Montague, Trade Union Group of Campaign against Climate Change, spoke to the Trades Council about ‘Fracking’ which has seen widespread use – and protest – in the US and is beginning to be used in the UK. Fracking is a technique for extracting gas from the ground by drilling into pockets of the gas and pumping high-pressure water deep into the ground to drive the gas out. As well as the climate impact of increased use of fossil fuels, we heard of local impacts such as:
The water then needs to be disposed of safely, which is usually by lorry, impacting on the traffic. New roads are unlikely to be built for fracking operations as they are short-term: A fracking pad with 10 well-heads is about size of a football pitch, but only lasts for two years before it’s 75% depleted.
What happens to the chemical additives in fracking mix? Each mix is a commercial secret, so it’s hard to hold these companies to account on safety standards. Some chemicals used are known to be carcinogenic. Some induce asthma. Has been known to get into the water supply.
Danger of leakage of methane. Although concrete is pumped in around the drills to try to stop this, we don’t have concrete strong enough to withstand the tremors that are produced. Methane can cause early-onset dementia.
Parts of the county may well be affected in the next few years (see map below).
We heard that there were alternatives, Investment was needed, and big projects have needlessly been allowed to fall through. It depends on government action to make. Ken said the research showed we could be carbon neutral by 2030.
We agreed to circulate a Model Motion and a guide to Fracking for Trade Unionists. Union branches can affiliate to Campaign against Climate Change online.