Sunday 16 June 2019

'There's no middle ground. . . it's either right or it's wrong'

Caroline Crawford

* CATHAOIRLEACH of Leitrim County Council Sean McDermott said the jury was still out for him on fracking.

The Fine Gael councillor would be surprised if fracking was given a clean bill of health by the EPA.

"I would love, as a councillor from the government party, to be sitting down at a press conference making an announcement of maybe 500 or 600 jobs in north Leitrim.

"I want to see people staying in the area, but I have a fear about fracking and the process has to be looked at.

"Technology is changing so fast. Who's to say we can't take the gas out of the ground in 10 years in a safer manner?

"We have to get it right. There is no middle ground in fracking, it's either right or it's wrong."

Leitrim County Council chairman Sean McDermott at his home near Manorhamilton Co Leitrim.
Leitrim County Council chairman Sean McDermott at his home near Manorhamilton Co Leitrim.
Anti-fracking signs outside Manorhamilton in Leitrim.
Anti-Fracking signs in Leitrim.
Dervilla Keegan and Cecily Gilligan from the Love Leitrim Group which is opposed to fracking in the Leitrim area
Farmers Jim Dillon and Michael Gallagher pictured on Dough/Thur mountain with views of Leitrim in the background, near Manorhamilton Co Leitrim.

* FARMERS Michael Gallagher and Jim Dillon oppose any plans to introduce fracking in Leitrim, fearing it could spell the end of their livelihood.

Their main concern is the back flow of water and chemicals from the wells seeping into the ground water and potentially poisoning animals or affecting crops.

"The affect the possible pollution will have on this area is huge," said Michael.

"They are looking at 3,000 wells in this area with millions of gallons of water for each frack. There is a list as long as your arm of chemicals that they pump in to do this type of work.

"Experts say up to 30pc or 40pc of what goes down has to come back up again.

"Our main concern is the flow-back from those tanks flowing into our drinking water or the streams used by our sheep and cattle. Our drinking water comes from Lough Gill and all the water here will flow into Lough Gill.

"They are using cement to build these wells underground. Even with the best practice, cement only has a shelf life of about 70 years. After that, what happens? They will be gone, it will be our children and grandchildren left with it."

* DOCTOR Carroll O'Dolan is a GP in Blacklion, Co Cavan, and spokesman for the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network.

Dr O'Dolan has concerns about the health implications of fracking, and believes the long-term costs will far outweigh any profits.

"High-volume hydraulic fracking is totally different to the traditional process that has been done for the last 60 years, so when people say it's been shown to be safe, it has not been shown to be safe," he said.

"In the short-term, there tends to be an increased risk of asthma and skin conditions. For long-term risks, it can affect people's immune systems and endocrine systems, (and) they will show up in increased risks of cancer later on," he said.

* DERVILLA Keegan and Cecily Gilligan are among more than 200 locals who have joined protest group Love Leitrim.

They fear the introduction of fracking will drive young families away from the area.

"I think the depth of feeling is very strong locally and people are very, very concerned," said Cecily.

"We have a wonderful landscape and a wonderful county and we want it to remain so, people feel very strongly about maintaining that.

"We appreciate that times are difficult economically for people now, but I think if this tragedy is to befall us in Leitrim, it's just going to be another nail in the coffin for rural Ireland. Nobody will want to rear a young family here."

Dervilla said introducing fracking could result in job losses. "Of course, we've heard of the 600 jobs fracking is promising, but we would be concerned that the thriving sustainable industries that are already here will be affected by these plans.

"Tourism and agricultural are the main employers. We have a great eco-tourism and organic food industry here. They will all be massively affected.

"The gas itself is going to be sold back to the Irish public at cost rates, so we won't be benefiting from this. There are alternative forms of energy and cleaner forms of energy that wouldn't risk the population's health."

Irish Independent

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