Thursday 22 February 2018

Fracking debate needs full attention

■ Fracking has become a contentious issue across Leitrim.
■ Fracking has become a contentious issue across Leitrim.

Dear Madam, I read with disbelief Paddy O'Keeffe's comments on Fracking in the Farmers Journal on September 27. He says: "Damage to underground water supplies has been expected. No such damage has been identified."

It is common knowledge that there are daily issues with groundwater contamination in the countries where fracking is being carried out. There are hundreds of research papers and peer revied studies published on the subject.

In one study done at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine USA, in March of this year, dozens of cases of illness, death and reproductive issues in cows, horses, domestic pets and wildlife have been identified. The paper's authors interviewed animal owners in six states – Colorado, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas – and cited 24 cases where animals were potentially affected by gas drilling.

The Canadian National Farmer's Union (NFU) called for a moratorium on fracking in 2011. Its coordinator and dairy farmer Jan Slomp referred to several cases of water contamination and stated: "Not many of these stories get made public because the oil and gas companies usually force farmers to sign confidentiality agreements in return for replacement of their water wells."

The quality of ground water is critical to raising high quality food. Unfortunately in the experience of too many Alberta farmers and ranchers hydraulic fracturing has been associated with water well contamination and damage.

I welcome the fact that the Irish Farmer's Journal has finally opened the debate on hydraulic fracturing in its publication but disappointed at the low level of research. Yours faithfully, Nuala McNulty Tawnylust Manorhamilton

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