Nigerian activist urges locals to “unite” against fracking

“Fracking should not be allowed here, the damages it will cause cannot be reversed,” Nnimmo Bassey international Chair of Friends of the Earth has told the Leitrim Observer.

“Fracking should not be allowed here, the damages it will cause cannot be reversed,” Nnimmo Bassey international Chair of Friends of the Earth has told the Leitrim Observer.

Nnimmo Bassey was in Ireland to speak at a number of events about the dangers of fracking, he talked to the Leitrim Observer just hours before he addressed a large crowd in the Bee Park, Manorhamilton last Friday, August 17. The award winning environmental human rights worker is best known for his work to prevent and reverse the negative impacts of Shell’s activities in Nigeria. Bassey said he was asked by Friends of the Earth to come to Ireland and show solidarity to the anti fracking campaign here.

Bassey wanted to speak to locals in Manorhamilton to tell them about the “dangers that may happen” if fracking proceeds and to “paint a picture of what can be expected.” The information he gave came from personal experience of the oil industry in Nigeria. Although it is gas they want to frack for in Leitrim, Mr Bassey said the industries are similar as both resources are “running out” and the industries want “to lock everything in quickly.”

Bassey said there are many reasons why fracking should not be allowed to proceed in Ireland, but for him the main reasons are that there will be too much “pressure on water resources” and that “chemicals could contaminate the ground.” When he was informed that Tambroan Resources, one of the companies wishing to frack the Lough Allen Basin have promised to frack without chemicals, Mr Bassey took a long silent pause. “How?” he queried. “This will be very difficult,” he commented. He said his experience shows that chemicals are needed. He noted that companies want to frack in Nigeria too, but he doesn’t believe the country can provide the large amount of water needed for fracking.

Bassey explained that in Nigeria oil spills from failed equipment can be “deadly.” He said many of these companies are “irresponsible” and end up polluting local rivers. He explained how spillages were commonplace with an estimated one oil spill every day.

Mr Bassey said the Irish Government could not do the “bidding” of the gas industry. “We only have one planet, one Ireland - you have to live here.” The risk taking activist said he had come to tell the people of Leitrim and Ireland to “unite” against fracking. Bassey said Friends of the Earth have members in 76 countries around the world, he said the purpose of the international group is “show solidarity and support each other.”

Nnimmo Bassey was joined on the panel by Love Leitrim Eddie Mitchell and Fermanagh native Sister Majella Mc Carron who worked in Africa. The event was chaired by Molly Walsh Friends of the Earth.
Mr Bassey also spoke at a public meeting in Glenamoy, Co Mayo on Sunday, August 19 and at Dublin’s Liberty Hall last Monday night, August 20.