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24 Apr, 2016 07:47

‘People should be terrified fracking is spreading’ – Australian MP who set river on fire to RT

Fracking should be banned as a “global threat” as it causes methane leaks contaminating water in the communities near gas wells, says an Australian MP who literally set a river ablaze to draw attention to the adverse effects of the practice.

The companies that extract coal seam gas via fracking are duping people into believing that their technology is safe, while in reality it has contributed greatly to the pollution of sites like Condamine river located in the Australian state of Queensland just near the fracking site, Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said in an interview to RT.

“This gas is leaking out of the ground because of the fracking. They have thousands of gas wells around this river, around this site. They drill, they frack, but the gas isn’t just flowing up their gas wells, it’s coming through the ground,” he said, stressing that Origin Energy company, that operate the wells, “should be condemned for polluting one of our most important rivers.”

Speaking of how to prevent the fracking industry from damaging the environment, he said that Australia should ban fracking as an unsafe practice altogether.

“What we are waiting in Australia is a moratorium on fracking,” he said, adding that fracking should be viewed as a global threat and its spreading should make people around the world “terrified.”

Earlier this month, Buckingham came to Chinchilla, in southwest Queensland, while campaigning against fracking as part of the Green’s party’s agenda. To show the dire effect on nature caused by the technology, Buckingham set the Condamine river on fire with a kitchen lighter and later unloaded the video on the web.

‘Industries should be fixing problems instead of doing propaganda’

Calvin Tillman, a co-founder of ShaleTest and former mayor of Dish, Texas, echoed Buckingham’s concerns, saying the fracking companies’ claims that gas leaks out of natural reasons don’t stand up to scrutiny.

“It’s insane to think that the river would just catch on fire, that the water would just catch on fire because of this,” he said, referring to the Queensland river.

He argues that the industry, which portrays fracking as safe, should focus on tackling the actual problem of damage they cause instead of marketing their activities as environmental-friendly.

In its promotional video, Origin Energy said: “Making reliable energy in the safest way possible is our healthy obsession,” and called fracking the “safest way to extract” gas reserves.

“If it is the safest way to get [gas] then it’s obviously not safe. The industries need be accountable and they don’t need to put propaganda, they need to be fixing problems such as this,” he said.

The negative impact from living next to the gas wells is not confined only to methane pollution and risks of explosions, as many other dangerous substances are coming through the ground in the process of fracking.

“Along with this methane and this flammable gas you also have the variety of different chemicals that cause a variety of different health effects,” he warns.

Tilman has a first-hand experience of living by the gas wells which even made him move out of town where he was a mayor at the time. Speaking to Huffpost in 2011, Tilman explained his decision to step down by the worsening ecological situation in a town with 60 gas wells and 200 residents many of whom were complaining of nosebleeds and poor circulation since the establishment of the first compressor station in 2005.

Speaking of the imminent threats that fracking pose to people Tilman said there were known incidents in Texas which “water well houses have actually exploded and severely burnt people,” adding that it is “an obvious issue” there.

In August 2015, RT reported that a Texas family from the town of Perrin, filed a lawsuit, accusing the local fracking companies of high-level methane contamination in the area which led to an explosion on their ranch.

The family had suffered from burns after methane from nearby fracked wells leaked into their water well and ignited in August 2014, leaving the husband permanently disabled.