Article courtesy of Mark Aitken | February 1, 2015 | Daily Record | Shared as educational material
A TEXAN family who suffered severe health problems as a result of fracking near their ranch including; rashes, nose bleeds, sores and a potentially fatal brain aneurysym have urged Scots to consider the risks.
AN AMERICAN family whose health was wrecked by fracking near their ranch have warned Scots to take care before giving energy firms the go-ahead.
Texan couple Bob and Lisa Parr were awarded £2million from Aruba Petroleum last year after they and their daughter Emma, now 12, suffered severe health problems linked to underground gas extraction near their ranch in Decatur, 60 miles from Dallas.
They suffered rashes, sores and nosebleeds and Bob, 54, needed treatment for a potentially-fatal brain aneurysm.
Their cattle also died or were born with birth defects.
The Pars say their symptoms were caused by chemicals from fracking – when water, sand and chemicals are powered into shale rock to release gas – near their land.
Their case is the first successful civil court action against a fracking company – although the family have still to receive a penny.
Days after the Scottish Government promised fracking would not be permitted here until after a full investigation, Lisa, 46, told the Sunday Mail: “I don’t want a single family in the world to suffer what we did.
“If companies can’t find a safe way to do it, and can’t do it away from people’s homes, schools, hospitals and churches, then they shouldn’t do it.
“The company that drilled near us were so arrogant. They came here, did what they wanted, took what they wanted and made us sick.
“I had nausea and headaches, which I blew off as the flu, but then I had a rash all over my body and had trouble breathing.
“As a stay-at-home mom, it hit me harder because I was here all day.
“My husband was at work and my daughter was at school, but then they started having problems too.
“Emma had nosebleeds – five or six a week – and rashes and trouble with her vision. There were a few times she woke up in the middle of the night screaming and crying.
“On one occasion, I jumped up to go get her but I was so dizzy, I fell back down. I had to crawl to her room, where I found her covered in blood from a nosebleed.
Companies use 52,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid per well to soften up the shale before they frack it.
I had the highest rate of hydrochloric acid in my system my doctor had ever seen.
“My husband also started having nosebleeds and speech and memory problems.
“Then he had a bleeder – a type of brain aneurysm. He was very lucky to survive.”
Aruba Petroleum operated 22 oil wells within a two-mile radius of the Parrs’ ranch.
The energy firm claimed the Parrs couldn’t prove it was one of their wells that made them sick between 2008 and 2011, but a jury awarded the family £2million last year.
The Scottish Government last week put all applications for fracking – which has been blamed for causing earthquakes and water pollution – on hold until a full public consultation is carried out, a process that could take two years.
Lisa said: “I would urge the Scottish Government to look at the impact of fracking. Please consider people’s health and the environment.”
The Parr family feature in the 2013 documentary Gasland 2, which shows homeowners setting fire to water coming out of their taps because of the volume of methane released by nearby fracking. The film’s producer Deborah Wallace, originally from Glasgow, described fracking as the “last gasp of the fossil fuel industry”.
She added: “I think the Scottish Government’s moratorium on fracking is a step in the right direction, but there should be an outright ban.
“People are worried and they are right to be worried.
“Fracking has become a political football but this is first and foremost a public health issue.
“The fact it has been proposed in the central belt of Scotland is completely ludicrous.
“It is the most densely populated area of the country and to put the health and well-being of all those people at risk is outlandish.
“I have seen the effects of this technology and it is not something I want to see in my homeland.
“Most of my family still live in Scotland and the possibility of them being threatened by the things I have seen happen to people in America is terrifying and outrageous.”
The Scottish Government have set a target of generating 100 per cent of the country’s electricity from
renewable energy by 2020.
But Deborah said: “Any economic benefit from fracking is outweighed by the massive danger to public health.”
The first Gasland documentary was nominated for an Oscar in 2011 and won an award at the Sundance Film Festival.
Director Josh Fox began the film after his family was offered $100,000 to lease their land in Pennsylvania for fracking.
He said: “Scotland has a very ambitious renewable energy plan. Fracking would be going in the opposite direction.
“The Scottish Government has taken the right step, but there needs to be a total ban on fracking.”
Grangemouth owners Ineos have offered to give away six per cent of revenue from shale gas exploration to local communities.
But Fox said: “Six per cent is, frankly, way below market. In Pennsylvania, landowners are getting 12 to 18 per cent.
“Besides that, no percentage is worth pumping chemicals down into your ground water.
“And if you have gas drilling all over some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, you’re going to lose the tourism industry. No one wants a vacation in a gas field.
“I wouldn’t recommend making money from destroying the future of the next generation, which is what fracking is.”
The Scottish Government said: “We have taken a careful, considered and evidence-based approach to unconventional oil and gas fracking – an approach now underpinned by the moratorium announced last week.
“We have also successfully campaigned to ensure that UK Government plans to remove householders’ rights to object to drilling under their homes will not apply in Scotland.”
“If we have our own gas we should exploit it”
Energy giant Ineos director Tom Crotty has described gas as the “next best alternative” to wind and solar power.
He also said there had been a “huge amount of misinformed debate” about shale gas extraction.
Appearing on Radio 4’s Any Questions? programme, he said: “We are a major user of gas. We use it to make chemicals to support British manufacturing, and gas will play a very important part in our economy for the fore-seeable future.
“Gas has half the CO2 output of coal, so will help reduce our CO2 emissions.
“We will also have a position where gas is the perfect transition for renewables.
“Until we get to a position where we can store energy for long periods of time when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining, you have to have a way of generating power, and gas is the next best alternative.”
Crotty warned that 50 per cent of gas used by Britain is imported, and that could jump to 75 per cent in 10-15 years’ time.
He said: “It is imported from countries where politically there is instability, so we don’t have security of supply.
“It is imported with a lot of CO2 generation because it is coming from halfway across the world, and it is imported at great cost to the UK Exchequer.
“In my view, if we have our own gas, we should exploit that gas.
“To do that, we have to prove to the public it can be done safely.
“There has been a huge amount of scare stories and misinformed debate about shale gas extraction.
“We have to provide the public with the information that allows them to make decisions based on evidence.”
Your say – A looming disaster or a necessary evil?
Grangemouth chemical plant owners Ineos say a ban on fracking would be like “heading for a cliff edge” in energy supply.
The firm has secured fracking rights for 729 square miles of land around the Central Belt and plans to spend £640million on producing shale gas in Scotland.
But what would it mean for those living near fracking developments?
The Sunday Mail went to Grangemouth’s town centre to gauge the local mood on fracking and the Scottish Government’s moratorium on the controversial process.
William Bennie, 68
I think fracking would be good for jobs and bring down energy bills. But my questions is where will it be sited in Scotland? Fracking is booming in the United States but it has wide open prairies. We don’t have the same space here for fracking. If it happened a mile from here, people would be concerned. But it was further away, I think it would worth trying.
Jill Brown, 37
I would like to find out more about the long-term impact of fracking. We need to know how it is going to affect our children’s futures. Regeneration of Grangemouth’s town centre could bring new jobs, businesses and opportunities. There are other ways to give the community a boost than possibly jeopardising people’s health with fracking.
Ron Bryder, 73
Fracking provides gas and everybody wants gas. But the Scottish Government has decided England can pay for it all, which I think is a totally selfish attitude to take. If we are going to have fracking, it has to take place somewhere and someone might suffer. It might be me. We have enough heavy industry around here as it is. Fracking won’t make much difference.
Mandy Harkins, 47
I’m worried about the chemicals that are involved in fracking. It should never happen near a town like ours. We already have enough to cope with the oil refinery and waste management plants here. It feels like this area is being used as a dumping ground. I think there should be an outright ban on fracking.
George McCallum, 66
I think fracking is a dangerous way of getting fuel. Anytime you fracture the Earth’s surface, it is surely going to cause some problems. Man has already done enough damage to the Earth. We don’t need fracking as well. There are other alternatives. I agree that communities should have local referendums over fracking applications.
Nanette Mathew, 72
I don’t like the idea of fracking at all. We have done enough damage to the environment. It might mean an economic boost to the area, but we should be looking to solar, wind and wave power. I think the Scottish Government is right to investigate fracking fully before making a decision. We have to look at the long-term impact for future generations.