Geraint Davies MP: My Bill puts safety before fracking

Geraint Davies MP's Fracking Regulation Bill, presented yesterday, would make the contamination of our water and the emission of harmful gases from fracking illegal. Geraint Davies MP for Swansea West said: “I'm committed to ensure that our environment, water and air are not contaminated by an unregulated rush to scar and poison Wales in the name of fracking. "The standards of safety that the Government is requiring the Environment Agency to apply for water and air contaminated by fracking could put the public at risk. “I’m conscious of this having worked for Environment Agency Wales heading up a team adapting Wales to climate change before becoming the Swansea West MP. “The plan to apply the principle of “LARA” – as low as reasonably achievable – to contamination of water and air from fracking is simply unacceptable and amounts to a reckless risk to public health. “Our water and air must be uncontaminated and what we drink and breath cannot contain contamination ‘as low as reasonably possible’ which would put people’s health at risk. “The Coalition Government should not gamble with people’s health in a reckless rush to exploit shale gas. “The Government must not allow massive fracking companies to ride roughshod over our towns and countryside leaving future generations with a legacy of environmental damage and risks to public health. “President Bush may have exempted fracking from the clean air and water regulations in the US but environmental vandalism and public health risks must not be allowed in Britain. “People need to realise that fracking isn’t simply pumping water into the ground to harmlessly push out methane. It also involves pumping in hundreds of chemicals and sand into the ground with the water to lubricate fracking so gas can flow and fractures don’t close up. “Many of the 600 chemicals used in fracking are toxic, some are carcinogenic and fracking releases radioactivity, in particular radon, from the rocks. “Typically 6 million gallons of water goes in per well and 3 million gallons of contaminated water comes out with the rest staying underground. The rock is fractured about 10,000 feet (one and a half miles) down to release methane gas pumped up the pipe with the help of chemicals. The industry say that the water table is nearer the surface e.g. top two or three hundred foot and so they say there is no risk of contaminating the water table with this fracked fluid “The environmental risks are that the contaminated water left underground could enter the water system, that contaminated water leaks out when pipes fracture and that contaminated water pumped out is not treated but dumped instead and enters our water supply. “We simply don’t have the water purification systems and technology in place in Britain and should be wary of dumping that has often occurred in the US in waste ponds in the countryside that could contaminate the water supply. “There have also been 140 recorded examples of water contamination from fractured concrete casings of drill pipes in the US but no one has been prosecuted because of exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Directive granted by President Bush. Fracking in the US is also exempt from the Clean Air Act so frackers don’t have to worry about Radon and methane contaminating the air. “In the US wells tend to be every mile with horizontal drilling radiating outwards. 25000 new wells were started last year. Each well leads to some loss of methane into the atmosphere and at the end of the process they vent the well to prevent explosions which leads to more methane in the atmosphere. This is harmful to global warming in addition to the CO2 emitted when the methane is burnt. “In Poland the fracking industry couldn’t get a good combination of chemicals to get the gas out so they produced lots of dry wells with technical difficulties. Therefore basing an energy future on fracking is ridiculous given the lack of evidence. In Poland it wasted a huge amount of money. “My private bill would require the Government to measure and regulate the impact of unconventional gas extraction on air and water quality and on greenhouse gas emissions. “In Wales and Swansea Bay we cannot allow fracking to proceed without ensuring that our water and air will remain uncontaminated. That’s why I’m calling for the Government to support my bill and not put public health and our environment to be put at risk. Fracking locally should need public consent and the more people find out about fracking the less they like it. “We have already discovered four times as much fossil fuel as is needed to increase global temperatures over the two degree tipping point so fracking isn’t needed and is accelerating global warming towards an environmental catastrophe.”