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Global Frackdown: World protests shale gas production

Published time: October 18, 2013 20:18
Edited time: December 24, 2013 15:06

Anti-fracking and Keystone XL pipeline activists demonstrate in lower Manhattan on September 21, 2013 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

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Thousands of people worldwide are expected to join the Global Frackdown protest on October 19. ‘Fracktivists’ from over 20 countries will gather to demand an end to fracking and “dangerous” shale gas drillings.

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Numerous events are scheduled to take place mainly across the US and Europe with some rallies already having kicked off in the UK, Romania, France and Spain.

The global movement will be also joined by activists from Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and Indonesia. So far, a total 26 countries are listed to be taking part in the protest.

“Climate scientists warn that continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels will lead to catastrophic climate change,” the Global Frackdown protest organizers said in press release.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the extraction of oil and gas by injecting water to break rock formations deep underground.

Fracking a single well can require between two and nine million gallons of water combined with sand and chemicals. Much of the used water returns to the earth’s surface, but contains radium and bromides - cancer-causing, radioactive substances. The toxic chemicals can then float into lakes and rivers or contaminate the ground.

On Saturday, Fracktivists in all participating countries will call on elected officials to open their eyes to the consequences of fracking, which they say is a risky technique. They will demand action to protect the public.

“It is critical that our elected officials hear the truth from their constituents,” the organizers said.

Canada

Anti-fracking protesters in Canada have held demonstrations over the past week to protest shale gas exploration in the region.

Thursday’s protest descended into violence when an estimated 100 police officers sought to control Canadian activists, who began setting cars on fire.

At least 40 people were arrested for firearms violations, threats, intimidation, mischief, and violating a court-order injunction, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said.

An online petition calling on the RCMP to pledge it will not use excessive force against peaceful protest, has been signed by over 21,000 people since its publication on Friday.

Police hosing fracking protesters in New Brunswick, Canada. (Photo fronm twitter/@MattThor)

Romania

Recent demonstrations have also been held against US oil giant Chevron in Romania, where around 200 villagers stayed overnight at a fracking site equipped with food, warm clothes, and tents.

The company has since suspended its search for shale gas in the country.

Romanians voice their protest during an anti-fracking protest in Barlad, Romania on September 1st, 2013. (AFP Photo/Andrei Pungovschi)

South Africa

On Friday more than 200 people marched nearly 3 km to the Shell offices located in the Foreshore are of Cape Town to protest hydraulic fracturing in South Africa.

Treasure Karoo Action Group chief executive Jonathan Deal told South Africa’s Independent Online the march was intended to show the government that people would not stand for the damage fracking would do to the environment.

The Treasure Karoo Action Group co-hosted the march with AfriForum and other NGOs.

“The people of South Africa need to understand the threat of fracking,” Deal said.

USA

In one of its latest reports Environment America revealed that bromide, when mixed with chlorine, produces chemicals that cause cancer and increase the risk of reproductive or developmental health problems.

According to scientists, fracking generated 280 billion gallons of toxic waste during 2012 alone.

Despite warnings, the method has increased rapidly in the US in recent years, making it the worldwide leader in fracking.

The report also estimated that over 80,000 wells have been drilled or endorsed across 17 US states since 2005.

UK

Criticism of fracking in the UK has grown rapidly since 2007, when Cuadrilla Resources – an independent UK energy company jointly owned by American, Australian, and local investors – was awarded a license for shale gas exploration in Lancashire, England.

Critics say the British government is turning its head to the risks because of the money it brings with it.

British Prime Minister David Cameron recently insisted the country could benefit from 74,000 new jobs that would be supported “by a thriving shale gas industry in this country.”

UK firm IGas said that according to a June estimate, roughly 4,810 cubic kilometers of gas could lie in the areas licensed for exploration in northern England.

But despite promises of cash and energy, many people continue to believe fracking carries more dangers than benefits.

“It’s time to expose the oil and gas industry’s desire to profit at the expense of our communities and our environment. It’s time to hold our elected officials accountable. It’s time for another Global Frackdown,” an anti-fracking activist said.

The October 19 protest will be the second worldwide Global Frackdown to take place. The first-ever protest was in September 2012 and brought together more than 200 community actions from over 20 countries.

Police confront demonstrators outside a drill site run by Cuadrilla Resources, near Balcombe in southern England August 19, 2013. Anti-fracking protesters scuffled with police outside an oil exploration site in rural England on Monday and broke into the headquarters of the energy company which is pioneering shale gas exploration in Britain. (Reuters/Paul Hacket)