Ineos condemned by charity as first shale gas shipment arrives in Scotland
Third Force News, by Gavin Stuart
Friends of the Earth Scotland said fracking had led to environmental destruction in North America.
Chemicals firm Ineos has been condemned for profiting from fracking as the first shipment of shale gas arrived at its Grangemouth plant.
Friends of the Earth Scotland (FOES) said the multinational had benefitted from millions of pounds of public money to build a storage tank for the ethane gas, delivered on Tuesday from shale fields in the US.
Ineos claims processing shale gas is essential if it is to maintain its business in Scotland. The company has invested more than $2 billion in a fleet of eight ships to transport the gas to its refineries in Grangemouth and mainland Europe.
But FOES said the project was “completely unacceptable”, claiming that if Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe was genuinely concerned about the future of the Grangemouth plant he would be investing in low-carbon technologies.
The charity also repeated its call for the Scottish Government to ban fracking, saying first-hand accounts from US shale fields had shown its impact on the local environment and public health.
Ron Gulla, a former resident of Hickory, Pennsylvania who signed a lease for fracking on his land in 2002, told FOES: “I have witnessed first-hand how the fracking industry has brought permanent damage across the Pennsylvania region, polluted our air, land and water and is destroying our livelihoods.
“Those living near drilling, infrastructure or waste sites have suffered water contamination, spills, wastewater dumping and gas leaks, as well as multiple health impacts.
“My property and life have been destroyed by this industry. I don’t know how the harm the fracking industry has caused can ever be corrected or how these injured places will get back their clean water. We must never lose sight of the fact that water is more important than gas.”
The Scottish Government currently has a moratorium on fracking while it gathers evidence on the impacts of the technology. A public consultation on the issue is set to take place in the winter of 2016-17.
Ineos, which owns or has a majority stake in all onshore oil and gas licenses in the central belt, has previously called the moratorium “absurd”.
Mary Church, FOES head of campaigns, said ministers must now act swiftly to put in place a permanent ban on unconventional gas extraction in the country.
She said: "It is completely unacceptable to attempt to prop up the Grangemouth plant on the back of environmental destruction across the Atlantic.
“One of the companies supplying Ineos, Range Resources, has attracted record fines for environmental pollution in the US. To write this off, as Jim Ratcliffe has done, as like getting the odd puncture in your car, is cavalier.
“You can fix a puncture in a matter of minutes. It may never be possible to fix groundwater contamination from leaking fracking wells.”
Ms Church highlighted a report from the UK Climate Change Committee stating global warming was already impacting Scotland and said consuming more fossil fuels was “utterly irresponsible”.
“If Jim Ratcliffe was really concerned about the future of the Grangemouth plant and its workers he would be planning for its transition to a low carbon model,” she added.
"We urge the Scottish Government to act swiftly to ban fracking and start planning seriously for a fair transition to a low carbon economy across all sectors. Fracking should not happen here in Scotland, and our country should not profit from it happening anywhere else."