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Documentary shows dangerous natural gas drilling method

June 18, 2010 7:45:05 PM PDT
Deep water oil exploration is getting new scrutiny ever since the Gulf disaster, but a new documentary is raising questions about a method used for drilling natural gas. The film is called "Gasland" and it documents how drinking water is being polluted around the country.

A kitchen sink in one Colorado home can be lit on fire and explodes from natural gas escaping from it.

Filmmaker Josh Fox sad it's the result of hydraulic fracturing -- a method of drilling to get natural gas. Sometimes is disturbing results on the residents such as lung damage or causing cancer.

"People doing independent water tests and finding they have heavy metals in their water, strange chemicals in their water, they know is associated with fracking fluids," says Fox.

The "fracking" process is when water and chemicals under pressure break up rock to get to the elusive natural gas supply it holds. It's a process that has been used for 60 years, but reports of ground water contamination are increasing.

ABC7 asked an industry spokesman if the chemicals are hazardous?

"You wouldn't want to drink this stuff, but it's a lot of the stuff you find under your kitchen sink and in your cupboard," says Chris Tucker form Energy In Depth.

Tucker says it's mostly water and sand.

When Fox was offered $100,000 for drilling on his property and told he wouldn't even know they were there, he decided to make the film.

"Nothing really prepared me for what I found when I went to these places. Completely overrun, Halliburton trucks everywhere, and a sense of fear. A sense of betrayal and fear that was palpable," says Fox.

It is happening in 34 states, but not California. Fox claims fracking was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005 by Vice President Dick Cheney. The industry says that's not true.

"Hydraulic fracturing has always been regulated on the state level, never by the EPA," says Tucker.

But now the government is taking a look at it.

"Folks in Washington would like the EPA to regulate that, but what they really want to do is shut it down," says Tucker.

Fox has been holding screenings of "Gasland" around the country and a grassroots anti-fracking campaign is building.

Oh and back to that flaming kitchen faucet.

"Naturally occurring, nothing to with oil and gas activity," said Tucker.

"They just deny it. It's denial, denial, denial," said Fox.

"Gasland" will be shown on HBO Monday night.

The documentary won a jury award at the Sundance Film Festival.


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