Residents from Ballinlea have organised a meeting (Tues 25th, 8pm, Ballintoy Parish Hall, Whitepark Road (junction with Ballinlea Rd), to give local people an opportunity to discuss the latest developments in local oil and gas explorations, and to hear from visiting expert Dr Geralyn McCarron, about possible health impacts from oil and gas exploration – drawing on her first hand experiences working as a GP and health impacts researcher in Australia. (Read her latest study here: Symptomatology of a gas field [An independent health survey in the Tara rural residential estates and environs] (April 2013), and a new report she recommends by Doctors for the Environment Australia on the resource industry and human health: DEA_-_The_Health_Factor_05-13)
The company (Rathlin Energy) that holds a petroleum exploration licence for the whole north coast area of Northern Ireland (from Ballycastle to Limavady, and inland to Garvagh), is currently seeking planning approval to drill a second exploratory well at Ballinlea in Co Antrim. (They have indicated that they may need to drill multiple wells to extract the oil they think is there.) See: http://epicpublic.planningni.gov.uk/PublicAccess/zd/zdApplication/application_detailview.aspx?caseno=MOMY19SV30000)
PLEASE NOTE: This Tuesday night meeting should not be confused with the two information evenings being run on Thursday (27th) and Friday (28th) by Rathlin Energy, in Mosside Community Centre, and Ballinlea Orange Hall respectively, for local residents. (Some residents in the Ballinlea area have received letters from the company about these events which will provide more detail about the company’s intended drilling operation, and issues related to their current planning application.)
Rathlin Energy Ltd – the company that will not rule out fracking on our beautiful north coast – is to seek planning permission this month to drill a second well at Ballinlea, Co. Antrim.
Local people, particularly those opposed to unconventional oil and gas extraction and fracking in the area, are waiting with interest to see the contents of the planning application, to learn more about:
- exactly what type of petroleum product the company is planning to extract, and from what type of rock or geological formation
- exactly what type of drilling the company is planning to use
- the duration of the operation
- what equipment and products they are planning to use
- what chemicals will be used, and in what quantities
- how they are planning to manage the toxic waste products from the drilling (i.e. where do they plan to put it?)
- how much and what type of additional traffic will be generated and for how long
- what environmental and health impact assessments they have done
- what baseline water, soil and air quality data they have collected
- what water, soil and air quality monitoring they have planned
- what pollutant-monitoring information will be available to the public
- what steps would be taken by the company to address any damage or contamination caused by its operations (noting that some types of contamination cannot be fixed)
- the extent of the company’s responsibility for addressing damage and contamination caused by its operations (noting that regular domestic and farming insurance companies will not cover contamination and damage caused by some oil and gas exploration and extraction activities)
- whether they will seek to use hydraulic fracturing (fracking) as soon as they have drilled the well.
Anyone approached by an oil/gas exploration company seeking to lease their land for any kind of oil or gas exploration/extraction should consider the advice and issues raised in the following guide from Harvard law school before signing: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/environmentallawprogram/files/2013/01/elpc-ohio-leasing-guide-v2-june-2011-web.pdf
Anyone who has signed an agreement/lease with an oil/gas company may wish to seek legal advice on their options for making variations or amendments to their contract in light of this guidance.