The TKAG, and its partner against shale gas exploration, the Afrikaner rights group Afriforum (speaking of curious bedfellows), make much of a series of interviews conducted with anonymous strangers about shale gas drilling. But anecdotes do not a court case make. If their interviews have any evidentiary value, I’d like to use them as evidence that the public is being misled by the TKAG.
The video montage they made of these interviews shows several people either claiming ignorance, or parroting the misinformation fed to them by the activists. Take the (unnamed) fellow who talks about an “aerial shot” of fracking. Undoubtedly, he refers to the laminated photo with which Jonathan Deal, CEO of the TKAG, was once spotted on television, and which used to appear on a website called KarooSpace (but has since been removed). A similar image still appears on the Water Rhapsody website, run by Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor, a committee member of the TKAG.
The trouble with the supposed aerial photograph of “fracking” is that it isn’t of a shale gas play at all. It is an image taken by the activist group SkyTruth of the Jonah Field in Wyoming, a tight sands operation. It is one of the most productive fields in the world, with uncommonly dense well spacing even forvertical drilling. It covers about 85 square kilometres, which is the size of a small town, and soon gets lost on a satellite view that shows it in relation to the town of Pinedale, 50km to its north. The Karoo won’t look anything like that photograph.
If images are to sway the undecided, however, allow me to offer for your consideration another gas field that was fracked, in Germany. There are eleven gas wells in this image. See how they destroy the bucolic farm landscape?
Elsewhere in the TKAG video, the claim is made that shale gas drilling involves “over 500 poisonous chemicals”. It doesn’t, not any more than your pool uses all the chemicals in your pool shop, or your kitchen is cleaned with all the chemicals at the supermarket. It uses perhaps a dozen. And only a few are poisonous. Many of them no more than the pool or household chemicals used by the sort of people who happily use grey water to irrigate their garden, with blithe disregard for its impact on the local groundwater aquifers.
The question with chemicals is not whether they’re poisonous. Almost everything is poisonous in some degree. It is how they are handled, what potential routes of exposure exist, and if exposed, what doseyou’re likely to get.
The video states as fact that shale gas drilling “[leaves] the water table contaminated and poisoned”, and “rendered completely useless”. These are flat-out lies. They are not true in the general case, and have never even been proven in anecdotal cases.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, if there are such negative implications,” one unnamed woman says. This shows that she was prompted before the clip that was shown, and given the false information mentioned above.
These sorts of videos are nothing but misleading agit-prop.