Actor Mark Ruffalo has joined the chorus of voices demanding that Minister Mark Durkan stops the drilling at North Woodburn Reservoir with the risk of poisoning Belfast’s water supplies. The situation is very grave – Infrastrata personnel have come on the land in Woodburn Forest with chain saws and are clearing the area targeted for drilling. Their operation is unlawful, without Environmental Impact Statement, without waste management plan, without proper permits. It is time that the Minister acts! This can’t be allowed to continue.
Actor and clean water advocate Mark Ruffalo, founder of Water Defense, and the organization’s Chief Technology Officer & Investigator, Scott Smith, sent a letter to Minister Durkan after Water Defense was contacted by local residents and organizations in Northern Ireland concerned about their water being contaminated by the drilling. Minister Durkan’s government is poised to allow unconventional oil and gas extraction with toxic chemicals 350 metres from the North Woodburn Water Reservoir that is the drinking water source for 131,000 people, including Belfast City centre. The unconventional drilling method is not safe and threatens the water supply, people’s health, and the environment.
Water Defense is a non-profit organization based in the United States that has traveled around the world testing water, educating people about toxic chemicals and pathways of contamination, and advocating for people’s right to clean drinking water. After local residents in Northern Ireland contacted the organization, Water Defense became very concerned about the ramifications of extreme drilling with toxic chemicals next to the reservoir and wrote a letter to Minister Durkan, copying other officials.
The letter notes, “It is also troubling that your Department, whose responsibility is for the Environment, is not intervening to stop this activity that appears to be unlawful given the fact that a Waste Management Plan (The Planning of Management of Waste from Extractive Industries 2015) was required before permitted development was granted and that environmental considerations have not been adequately assessed. It is extraordinary that on this sensitive site there has been no public scrutiny through the planning process and there has been no Environmental Impact Assessment.”
The letter also notes that Distinguished Professor Anthony Ingraffea, a renowned expert on unconventional drilling from the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at Cornell University, has called it ‘irrational’ for the dangerous drilling to go forward on this particular land. It points to the fact that some of the chemicals that would be used are carcinogenic, such asBiocide T, and can cause harm to unborn children.
The letter concludes, “We implore you to protect your citizens by protecting their water. The small amount of oil and gas that can be extracted from that site pales in comparison to the nightmare that contaminating the water supply for over 131,000 residents in your community would cause.”
Water Defense is also sending water testing kits to local residents and organizations including Friends of Earth Northern Ireland and Stop the Drill campaign, and will be in communication with them to perform water tests.
For the full letter :Water Defense letter to Northern Ireland