Gaslands is an American film about the the poisoning of water systems that occurs with the drilling process for natural gas.
Some 900 chemicals, some proprietary (meaning the composition of chemical compounds used is protected by copyright and therefore is not made public), are used in the process called fracking, (short for fracturing).
This is what happens to the bedrock, up to 4000 metres underground, when large volume so water are pumped under great pressure to force the gas up to the surface.
In Gaslands Josh Fox travels all over the US talking to people in communities where an unknown number of gas wells (in some counties the number of wells reaches into the hundreds of thousands) have contaminated water supplies.
In some homes we were shown people, using a lighter, actually setting fire to the water coming out of their taps.
In other homes people showed bottles of sediment clogged bran water that the drilling companies had claimed were free of contaminants.
The EPA in America were not involved as they were told specifically by Bush and Cheney to stay out of it, and as they have not been told anything else since, have remained out of the way and are not involved in doing what they are meant to do, protect the environment.
In one of the more devious acts fostered upon the US by Dick Cheney, oil and gas drilling were exempted from the rules of the various clean air and water acts imposed in the 1970s, which has resulted in waterway poisoning on a massive scale.
And of course the air has suffered as these wells release the unusable gases in the environment, poisoning animals and soil as well as people.
This is an American film, and while most natural gas drilling in Australia is undersea, there is currently a big move to extract gas from coal seams all along the east coast.
In Queensland and in the Hunter Valley in NSW the same process as used in the natural gas drilling in the US, franking, is used to push the gas up to the surface.
A story, Gas drilling licence nabs most of city published Nov 16, 2010, in the Sydney Morning Herald talks about a company that holds gas drilling licences to explore and drill for gas underneath most of suburban Sydney.
While theoretically such drilling makes sense in the face of greenhouse emissions, it seems, having watched this film, that this is sheer and utter folly, and will surely spell the certain bankruptcy of the Sydney City Council from future law suits over health and environmental damage.
See also Sydney’s Secret Power Grab also published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 14/11/10
Visit Gaslands’ website for more information and things that are happening in the US, to see how those actions may be applied in Australia.