Documentary tackles controversy over fracking for gas, Regina-based documentary maker investigates effect of fracking on the air, our water and our health by Raveena Aulakh, February 6, 2013, Toronto Star
What does it do to the air? Is too much water being used? What are the health effects on people living around the wells? “No one really knew,” says Leif Kaldor. So the Regina-based documentary filmmaker decided to take a close look at fracking — the relatively new but controversial technique of extracting natural gas from deep underground. The 15-month expedition took him and his team to the heart of the fracking industry, in Colorado and Texas in the U.S., and in B.C. and Alberta in Canada. The result is Shattered Ground, an hour-long documentary that explores the issues around it and explains why we should fret about fracking.
Kaldor and his crew visited Dish, Texas, where the first operations started in 2005. The mayor, Calvin Tillman, saw the town change forever as wells were put up next to schools and daycare centres. Tillman told Kaldor that an odour soon came from the fracking compressing stations. The town commissioned and paid for an air study. It discovered carbon disulfide, a neurotoxin that causes irreversible brain damage, he said.
It was a similar story in Erie, Colo. A group of mothers realized their kids had the same kind of food allergies and intestinal problems. As they rallied together to fight wells near schools and residential areas, a study by the Colorado School of Public Health found concentrations of chemicals known to cause cancer and neurological damage within a kilometre of shale gas wells.
Last year was the biggest drought in the U.S. in a decade, says Kaldor. “Not knowing where we will be with the water situation in 10 years and to waste water like this … it’s just very troubling.” The overall message of Shattered Ground is that there are lots of unanswered questions, Kaldor says. “If we are taking decisions that will affect our future, then we should look for answers first.” [Emphasis added]
Fracking the subject of Regina duo’s documentary by Bruce Johnstone, February 5, 2013, Leader-Post
Shattered Ground, a documentary directed and produced by Regina filmmakers and husband-and-wife team, Leif Kaldor and Leslea Mair of Zoot Pictures, takes a critical look at the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The documentary is primarily about the shale gas industry in the U.S., which uses fracking to produce natural gas from previously uneconomic formations. While fracking has been used in Saskatchewan for years in the southeast, mainly in the Bakken light oil formation, the documentary focuses mainly on the growing controversy in the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, in Canada. “It’s going to be affecting pretty well everybody sooner or later,” Kaldor said Monday from his office-home in the Cathedral Area.
Kaldor admitted fracking is not controversial in Saskatchewan, since hydraulic fracturing and horizontal or directional drilling are done in deeper oil formations in largely rural areas used to oil industry activity. In fact, in Western Canada more than 175,000 wells have been drilled using hydraulic fracturing, according to the Shale Resource Centre in Calgary. … “On the grand scale, (fracking) is a great thing,” Kaldor said. “It’s allowing the U.S. to have (energy) independence. And it’s affecting our country a great deal because they’re our biggest customer.”
But Shattered Ground shows that fracking is not a boon for everyone in the U.S., especially for those people who live close to shale gas wells and plants. “It’s so new and it’s gone so fast that they’re really playing catch-up with the (environmental) issues and the people who are living in the areas where it’s happening.” Reports of water and air contamination, noise pollution from flaring, health effects from toxic emissions from nearby shale gas wells and plants, paint a picture of an industry inadequately regulated and carelessly managed.
Of course, the industry maintains that hydraulic fracturing is perfectly safe – in Canada. “Problems are extremely rare,” said Karen Carle of the industry-sponsored Shale Resource Centre. “In the past, drinking water has never been contaminated in Canada because of hydraulic fracturing.” … “Hydraulic fracturing itself is a very safe and effective process.”
[Refer also to:
Hydraulic fracturing with gelled propane by Gasfrac/Crew Energy Inc./Caltex Energy Inc. contaminated groundwater near Grande Prairie: ERCB Investigative Report and groundwater monitoring by Alberta Environment ]