Monthly Archives: August 2013

Emily Blyth’s Fracking Song

Many of you will probably know Emily as the fiancee of our International Co-ordinator, Derek Wall.

She is one very talented lady, and this melancholic melody is yet another addition to the growing canon of anti-fracking inspired music:

Must be time for an anti-fracking benefit album, surely!

Extreme energy debate on Radio Wales this morning – I get the final word

BBC Radio Wales – Morning Call with Oliver Hides

Hour long debate (minus the usual weather, traffic, news updates) that focuses on UCG and shale gas.
Involved representatives from the BGS and Universities – along with yours truly and and members of the public.

I would encourage you to listen to it all, but my contributions are in the last quarter – from the 44:00 mark.

Please let me know what you think.

Andy Chyba

PS Headline story on BBC Wales TV news also focused on UCG today – with a good contribution from Swansea Green, Keith Ross

All aboard the People’s Train to Manchester

office | 020 8525 6988

Demonstrate at the Tory Party conference

Sunday 29 September, Manchester


People’s Assembly groups, trade union branches and campaign groups across the country are gearing up for the national demonstration at the Tory Party conference on Sunday 29 September in Manchester.

Coaches are also being organised from across the country. Get in touch with your local group to find out details of transport near you:

A response to Cameron’s pro-fracking diatripe in Torygraph.

Sent to: dtletters

With its bizarre and disturbing mania to force this appallingly dangerous technology upon us, the Tory agenda on fracking is approaching Goebbels lie proportions.

The Prime Minister’s desperate and dishonest treatise in the Telegraph today is utterly jaw-dropping and shows him to be on an increasingly desperate trajectory of political suicide.

The man is empowered to legislate for our safety. How DARE he deny the dreadful suffering of hundreds and hundreds of people in the frack fields of Pennsylvania and beyond? How dare he try to tell us that this will be an employment panacea; or that this short-term, quick-fix corporate folly will bring down energy bills, when experts from Ofgem and Deutsche Bank – and even Cuadrilla’s own PR people say otherwise?

How DARE he try to tell the British people that he can regulate an unregulatable industry?! The man is unworthy of office and ought to be deeply ashamed of himself.

He needs to wake up and smell the insidiously odourless methane now – and while he’s at it, to get a conscience. The British people are not stupid, they are listening to the myriad uninvested voices around the world exposing the true implications of giving this ecocidal industry sanction to frack our soil, air and water – and they do not like being lied to.

Vanessa Vine

(Vanessa is one of the leading lights in the Balcombe anti-fracking protests. I have worked with her since the onset of the anti-fracking movement in this country. She is an inspirational figure , who you would surely meet if and when you visit Balcombe. Andy.)

The Balcombe Great Gas Gala 10th/11th August

We have just returned from a life-enriching weekend in Balcombe.
I am too exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally to put together a full account, but that will follow (with photos) soon.

Enjoy this brief selection of video clips and get inspired to make your own pilgrimage soon.

Details of organised trips from South Wales will also be coming soon – watch this space – but get there whenever and however! (Balcombe train station is only 10 mins walk from the camp)

1. Getting into carnival mood:

2. Hymn to the Harmed:

3. Jerusalem fracked:

4. Today’s event organiser – the poet Simon Welsh:



Fracking benefit gig review

Just back from a wonderful evening at O’Callaghan’s Coffee House this evening, put on to raise money towards Frances and Justin’s expenses in facing their ridiculous charges at Crawley Magistrates Court, following their arrests at Balcombe.

A packed house, spilling out onto the pavement on a balmy evening, enjoyed the usual great hospitality and home cooked fair of the coffee house of hosts Helen and Mike, while enjoying some fabulous music. They regularly showcase local talent here, so get along – like this page to keep informed of what is on:

I have toi confess to missing the Hippy Taffs set, but it was much enjoyed by all accounts, but I am so pleased to have caught the exquisite trio that make up Vinna Bee. They are wonderful as well as properly clued up on the issues, as shown by this magical anti-fracking song:

Their set was more acoustic than this video would suggest – but all the more intimate and poignant for that.

They were followed by the contrasting talents of the Bones of St James. Again, we have a local band with the potential to go on and make a huge name for themselves given the right exposure.
Loved their skiffle influenced set too.

Look out for them all around South Wales.

The whole event raised a goodly sum for the cause and helped inform a new audience of the fracking menace.

Time for bed – as I am off to Balcombe myself at the crack of dawn tomorrow with the Bridgend Greens fractivist posse!

Autumn Conference, Brighton, 13-16 September

Begin forwarded message:

From: Louisa Greenbaum <louisa.greenbaum>

Subject: Autumn Conference, Brighton, 13-16 September

Date: 8 August 2013 13:05:59 GMT+01:00

Dear Local Party Contact,

Autumn Conference will take place from 13-16 September in Brighton, the world’s first One Planet City! With the UK’s first Green led council, 22 Green Councillors and a Green MP, there’s a lot to celebrate and the local party would love you to join them by the sea for what we hope will be the most colourful conference to date.

We will have panel sessions on The Future of our Railways, Mental Health, Free Schools and Academies and Women and Austerity, tours of local housing and transport projects and presentations led by local councillors, over 50 fringes including training for activists, and evening entertainment.

I would be grateful for your help in distributing information about conference to your members. I have attached the timetable, agenda and booking form.

There is lots of information and online booking on the conference
We have reserved student accommodation at £30 per night, walking distance from the venue.

The early bird booking deadline is 24 August

Perhaps you could also put it on the agenda of your next general meeting and take some print outs of the booking form for those who don’t have email?

Thanks for your help and look forward to seeing you in Brighton,

Louisa Greenbaum
Conferences Co-ordinator
The Green Party

Autumn Conference 2013
13-16 September, Brighton

Autumn2013_full_timetable (all content subject to minor changes).pdf

Final Agenda Autumn 2013 (Brighton).pdf

Booking Form_Autumn_2013.pdf

Welsh Affairs Committee – Shale Gas Inquiry – call for submissions by 14th August

The Welsh Affairs Committee has taken it upon itself to get more informed on the issue of Shale Gas. This has to be seen as a positive step – especially, but not exclusively, for those of us campaigning against extreme energy in Wales.

The deadline is now noon on 14th August – they appear to have brought it forward as, I am sure it was originally 30th August. You therefore have less than a week to make a submission.

The Committee invites written submissions and requests observations on the following issues:

  • The importance of gas to the UK’s overall energy needs and the potential role shale gas could play within it;
  • The potential for shale gas exploration and commercial level extraction in Wales;
  • The potential environmental and climate change impact of extraction and use of the gas;
  • Whether the current regulatory regime covering such activity is adequate; and
  • The potential economic impact of shale gas production in Wales; and
    The role of the Wales Office and the Welsh Government in developing a policy framework for the exploration of shale gas.

How to respond:

Each submission should:

  • begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • have numbered paragraphs;
  • be no longer than 1,500 words; and
  • be in Word format or a rich text format with as little use of colour or logos as possible. Please do not send your submission as a PDF document.

I have responded on behalf of Wales Green Party (a copy of my response can be seen here: ).

It focuses on the stark scientific and technical evidence against fracking, and therefore leaves several of the listed issues unaddressed – for you!

Given the 1500 word limit, I found it impossible to cover everything that needs covering in my submission.

I would, however, urge as many people/organisations to respond as possible.
You do not have to live in Wales to submit information.

You can upload your submissions by clicking on this link:
Submitt written evidence to the inquiry into Energy generation in Wales: Shale Gas
(The spelling mistake is theirs, not mine.)

One of the first things you have to declare is whether your submission is from you as an individual, or behalf of an organisation.

The Committee members are all Welsh MPs, but any broadening of the knowledge base at Westminster has to be a good thing, The composition of the Committee is in the table below. If it includes your MP, please write to them direct as well, as they will be obliged to respond. (Share their response with us, please!)


Member Party Constituency
David T C Davies MP (Chair) Conservative Monmouth
Guto Bebb MP Conservative Aberconwy
Geraint Davies MP Labour Co-op Swansea West
Glen Davies MP Conservative Montgomeryshire
Stephen Doughty MP Labour Cardiff South and Penarth
Jonathan Edwards MP Plaid Cymru Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
Nia Griffith MP Labour Llanelli
Simon Hart MP Conservative Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
Siân James MP Labour Swansea East
Karen Lumley MP Conservative Redditch
Jessica Morden MP Labour Newport East
Mark Williams MP Liberal Democrat Ceredigion

Submission to current Wales Affairs Committee Shale Gas Inquiry




The technical and scientific issues span the spectrum from the molecular to the global scale. The key technical problems include:

  • Borehole casing integrity
  • Seismicity
  • Explosive fracturing
  • Chemical use and associated health impacts
  • Flowback water
  • Silica sand health issues
  • Airborne pollution
  • Water resource implications
  • Climate change implications
  • Miscellaneous other impacts

(1500 words excluding footnotes and summary.)

1. Borehole Casings

1.1. Borehole casings are supposed to ensure no subterranean water contamination. “It’s an engineering process that is too hard to do perfectly, even with the best personnel, cements and equipment.” (Prof. Ingraffea)[1] Leaking is inevitable due to failures in the metal casing or cement. Even new wells fail (6%) and this rises steadily with age. All ultimately fail. This has been known for decades.

1.2. “Well Integrity Failure“, by drilling service company Archer, reports that c. 20% of all oil and gas wells are currently leaking worldwide. Schlumberger, the world’s biggest fracking company, cites failure rates of 60% in 30 years. [2]

1.3. Reasons they fail: failure to ensure gas tight fitting of the metal components; technical difficulties of ensuring consistent flows and quality in cement; ground shrinkage around boreholes; poor mud displacement; seismicity (natural or induced) destroying cement integrity and distorting metal casings.


2.1. Fracking can induce it[3], but the areas being targeted are seismically active areas. Cuadrilla’s CEO stated “There are procedures we can put in place to practise earthquake prevention” [4] . In fact, “People can’t stop earthquakes from happening. People can significantly mitigate their effects by identifying hazards, building safer structures, and learning about earthquake safety” (US Geological survey)[5].Fracking is, patently, the antithesis of earthquake mitigation.


3.1. They trigger explosions at intervals along the horizontal section of the borehole within the target strata. Predicting the extent of the resultant cracks is impossible due to the vagaries of deep subterranean geology. All pre-existing faults cannot be identified by current survey techniques. Minor ones will be accentuated by the explosions. Fractures can extend for 2500 ft and are frequently 1000ft. They spread to neighbouring strata and through the target strata to neighbouring wells [6]. There can therefore be no assurance that the aquifers are secure above the target strata, either before or, especially, after fracking operations.


4.1. Fracking extends the fractures and props them open with sand. Because of the length of boreholes, the drilling technology, the high pressures being used and the nature of the geology, the process requires a cocktail of chemical additives. The industry admits to the need for the following ingredients [7]:

· Strong acids to dissolve minerals

· Numerous poisonous biocides to eliminate bacteria and algae

· Friction reducers such as acrylamides and mineral oils

· Corrosion inhibitors to protect drills and well casings

· Scale inhibitors to prevent furring

· Surfactants and cross-linkers to adjust fluid viscosity

· Acidity regulators

· Breakers

· Iron control agents [8]


5.1. Dr Theo Colborn, who has identified a wide range of compounds in frack fluids and discerned an array of serious health consequences, from the immediate to the slow developing.

5.2. In many cases, parts per billion are all that is needed for devastating consequences[9]. 78% of the chemicals are serious irritants. The brain and nervous system can be harmed by 55% of the chemicals. Other effects (cancer, organ damage, endocrine disruption etc.) may not appear for months or years later.


6.1. It is a dangerous misconception to claim that we are assured of full disclosure of chemicals used in the UK due to some inconvenient truths. There is no such thing as proprietary frack fluid. It varies at every fracking stage and with variations in local geology. You would need to test every ‘frack job’, at every site.. This is a practical impossibility. So the EA asks the industry to declare what it is using. The deceits that UK frackers tell about the chemicals they use are well established [10].

6.2. EA analysis of flowback waters from the fracking operations in Lancashire [11] looked for just one of the declared frack fluid ingredients, polyacrylamide, in one solitary sample (and found it). This breaks down into the nerve toxin acrylamide. Radioactive isotopes (radium-226, potassium-40, radium-228, plutonium-241) were found at much higher concentrations than expected.

6.3. BTEX compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes), known to be used were not found. Cuadrilla mentions them on a data sheet [12], as ‘hydrocarbon oil’. The EA did not even attempt looking for this it appears – nor the non-specific biocides Cuadrilla also own up to using.


7.1. Existing treatment plants have nowhere near enough capacity to handle the quantities of toxic flowback that full-scale production would generate. Currently it is being stored in double-skinned tanks on site. Cuadrilla is taking no chances: “Upon returning to the surface, they [frack fluids] are stored in steel tanks and at no point come in contact with the ground. In the unlikely event that any liquid was spilt on the surface, seepage at ground level is prevented by the installation of an impermeable membrane on land at and surrounding the well site.” [13] Extraordinary precautions for fluids we are told not to worry about. Storage is one thing, avoiding spills in transfer is quite another [14].


8.1. Silica sand is used as a proppant in frack jobs because of its hardness and grain shape. Well-established research shows that handling such sand, and breathing in its dust, is a very dangerous. The Lancet connects it with unacceptable levels of silicosis in shale gas workers – which is debilitating, irreversible and incurable. [15]


9.1. A major study[16] has shown that air pollution caused by fracking contributes to acute/chronic health problems for those living nearby. “The health science community is now looking at why health complaints are rising in fracking areas, particularly among children,” says Steinzor[17], reporting headaches, nausea, bloody noses and nerve problems.

9.2. The two main sources:

(1) The large amount of heavy diesel-powered machinery used. [18].

(2) Methane leaks and fugitive emissions[19].

9.3. With the methane comes a variety of VOCs. Even where these gases are flared, they lead to secondary pollutants, (sulphur compounds, nitrogen oxides etc.) which increase air pollution. The health effects of these compounds are well documented [20].


10.1. “Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction” [21], published in June 2012, is the definitive independent study on the subject.

10.2. It establishes six key water resource issues: (1) water withdrawals; (2) groundwater contamination; (3) wastewater management; (4) truck traffic impacts; (5) spills and leaks; and (6) stormwater management.

10.3. ‘Water withdrawals’ refers to the water withdrawn from existing resources for fracking activities. The report broadly supports established estimates: c. 500,000 gallons to drill each well; c. 4 million gallons for each frack job. Once you begin to appreciate the potential scale of the industry in the UK, the figures become astronomical.

10.4. Using established industry typical estimates: each well fracked 6 times in its lifetime; each well pad has about 10 wells radiating out. This gives 4x6x10 million gallons per well pad = 240 million gallons. Current technology has optimum spacing of sites at c. 2km apart. Pedl licences cover 10km squares. So that is 25 sites per 10 km square. There are about 185 of these 10km squares currently under licence onshore and all are potential targets of the frackers [22].

10.5. This gives 240x25x185 = 1,110,000 million gallons of water used for fracking. Add the water used in drilling (0.5x10x25x185=23,135 million gallons) for a conservative estimate of 1,133,125 million gallons of water. This is c. two billion Olympic swimming pools, or roughly 16.5 Lake Windermeres!!

10.6. Only 10 to 30% of the water used in fracking is ever recovered. [23] The industry says it is putting this water safely below deep aquicludes. We have examined reasons to doubt this, but if they are right they are putting water outside the water cycle. It will become (highly contaminated) fossil water that may not see the light of day for many millions of years. In an era of ever increasing pressure on water supplies[24], it is completely irresponsible to be putting 12 Lake Windermeres worth of precious water supply beyond reach.


11.1. The definitive report, “Shale gas: an updated assessment of environmental and climate change impacts” (Tyndall Centre)[25] is compelling. It concludes that any new fossil fuel resource will only lead to additional carbon emissions, thereby wrecking claims that shale gas is a transitional (or bridge) fuel towards a low carbon future. Its use can only delay the introduction of renewable energy alternatives by putting off the imperative. “Consequently, if we are serious in our commitment to avoid dangerous climate change, the only safe place for shale gas remains in the ground


12.1. The Tyndall Report recognises that high population density is likely to amplify many of the issues that have been faced in the US. It is likely that the environmental and health consequences could be significantly worse, not less, on these relatively crowded little islands of ours.


13.1 Those that appreciate the full range of consequences of this industry want nothing to do with it – be it small villages in the Vale or Sussex, or whole countries that have banned it or imposed moratoria. The consequences extend well beyond the scientific/technical ones discussed here – noise, HGV traffic, property values, loss of amenity, and impacts on biodiversity, agriculture and tourism and so on. It has become a political issue in which choices about our relationship with the planet we depend on are central. Future generations will look back on this issue as a tipping point, one way or another, in that relationship.


[8] See the Congressional Committee sequence near the end of the Gasland film. (from 5:00 of this clip: )
[10] See the second half of: