Monday, June 21, 2010

Flammable Water? Gasland on HBO

Gasland premieres tonight on HBO. Directed by Josh Fox, the doc won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance and runs down the damage done to the environment due to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) when drilling for natural gas.

This from Mike Hale's review at NYT:

Wherever he goes he finds flammable, foul-smelling water, sick people and animals, and families who no longer use their wells but truck in all their household water (usually bought at Wal-Mart).

NYT's Arts Beat blog has an interview and clip:

Q. What did you find?

A. When I first went to Dimock, which was the first stop in the film, my brain was blown apart. These people had no idea what was coming. They signed for very little money, in most cases around $25 an acre. They were told, “You know we’re probably not even going to drill. We don’t think there’s any gas here, so you might as well take this $500 for your 10 acres,” or whatever it was. So they were, like, “O.K.,” and then all of a sudden their whole town is upended and taken away from them. They have heavy metals in their water, flammable water, discolored water, water that wrecked washing machines. A woman named Norma Fiorentino, her water well exploded on New Year’s Day in 2009. When I arrived there in the beginning of February 2009, people were terrified.

This is from the NPR's Talk of the Nation interview:

The industry is not releasing what those chemical compositions are. They're saying it's like the special formula for Coca-Cola. But this is, you know, being injected underground and left there by the millions of gallons. And we know that most of the stuff is toxic: carcinogens, neurotoxins, other - endocrine disruptors, things that are - can - that can really be very harmful in small, small quantities.

Audio for that is here (14:12)

Alison Rose Levy does a write-up at Huffington:

When the Sundance award-winning film, Gasland, begins nationwide broadcast on HBO this Monday, the curtain will rise on Act II of the health tragedy wrought by the insurgent fossil fuel race to profit. This exquisitely crafted documentary feels like America's Nuremberg, as ordinary heartland citizens rise up to indict gas giants, who, they claim, have been on the loose since 2005, when former Vice-President Dick Cheney crafted the so-called Halliburton Loophole.

The Halliburton Loophole expressly exempts oil and gas companies, from customary safety measures, health safeguards, regulatory oversights, penalties and liabilities that most Americans assume are in place to protect citizens, health and resources.


Fracking drills deep into the earth to bring forth gas (and radiation) mixing nearly 600 toxic, proprietary chemicals with millions of gallons of public water.

...according to an Environmental Working Group report, one single well contains chemicals sufficient to "contaminate more than 100 billion gallons of drinking water."

When film-maker Josh Fox tracks the hundreds of truckloads used to convey the process into (and out of) a region, the numbers reveal that nearly half of these chemicals are left behind to evaporate into the air, and seep into wells, aquifers, streams, and creeks that flow into rivers. Due to the exemption from Superfund Cleanup, no remediation is required of drillers. 

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