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Fracking Voelkersen, Germany


Description:

Since the beginning of gas extraction (1992) over 13 billion cubic meters of gas have been produced in the Voelkersen field (near Bremen, Lower Saxony) by RWE Dea AG an international oil and gas company headquartered in Hamburg. The firm has applied hydraulic fracturing, (short fracking, extracting natural gas from shale rock), which creates contamination of surrounding water sources. The contaminated water must be removed and stored safely. For doing so, the RWE Dea has build a 22 km long waste water pipeline close to Voelkersen. This pipeline passes through a water conservation area. Water containing benzene has leaked through for a long time from these waste water pipes. After 10 years of usage, the pipeline plastic can no longer stay intact and starts leaking benzene. In Novermber 2011, an anonymous whistle blower the local branch of Friends of the Earth Germany about the leaking of benzene from the pipeline. The subsequent investigations revealed that benzene leakes from the pipeline at nearly every measuring point. Later another anyonmous tip revealed that not only benzene but also mercury leakes from the pipeline. These incidents and two fracking related earthquakes with magnitudes between 2,5-2,8 in 2011/2012 have created a massive mobilization against fracking in the region. Local initiatives (http://www.nofracking.de/; Gegen-Gasbohren.de), local and national environmental justice organisations (e.g. Greenpeace), political actors (Alliance 90/The Greens), and media (e.g. Weser Kurier) mobilized against fracking. Many of them in collaboration with each other. The public scrutinizing of the waste water line at the edge of the water reserve in Voelkersen has had some success. The pipeline and similar ones in Lower Saxony have been removed. All contaminated areas will be rehabilitated. The compression of the reservoir water in the water protection area has been (temporarily) stopped. Flaring an open flame was stopped, and instead, a closed system is used.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Fracking Voelkersen, Germany
Country:Germany
State or province:Niedersachsen
Location of conflict:Voelkersen
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Shale gas fracking
Uranium extraction
Specific commodities:Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Over 13 billion cubic meters of gas have been produced in the Voelkersen field

Project area:no data
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:14,400
Company names or state enterprises:RWE Dea AG from Germany
Relevant government actors:Government of Lower Saxony, Lower Saxony State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG): in Hanover
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Germany

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Other Environmental impactsPollution of soil, hydro systems with benzene, mercury
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:No fracking, only extraction of natural gas without environmental risks
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The mobilisation has had some success. The pipeline and similar ones in Lower Saxony have been removed. All contaminated areas will be rehabilitated. The compression of the reservoir water in the water protection area has been (temporarily) stopped. Flaring an open flame was stopped, and instead, a closed system is used. As a reaction to the mobilization against fracking in Germany or not German utilitiy giant RWE is currently looking for a buyer for its RWE DEA (oil and gas extracting) business. The highest offers came from a U.S. private equity firm and KKR & Co and Kufpec as well as from Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman. This deal may worsen the situation of people and protesters in Voelkersen.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislationsĀ - Juridical texts related to the conflict

German Mining Law

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

http://www.umweltrat.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/04_Stellungnahmen/2012_2016/2013_05_AS_18_Fracking.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

http://www.daserste.de/information/wissen-kultur/w-wie-wissen/sendung/2012/fracking-100.html

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/378/publikationen/texte_83_2013_environmental_impacts_of_fracking.pdf

LinksĀ to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-08/no-fracking-in-germany-for-now-backed-in-merkel-coalition.html

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/11/08/uk-germany-energy-idUKBRE9A70RL20131108

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

http://www.daserste.de/information/wissen-kultur/w-wie-wissen/sendung/2012/fracking-100.html

http://www.kreiszeitung.de/bilder/2012/05/06/2306024/124248148-dsc_0855-qKwia2Gt609.jpg

https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/p240x240/1426311_630316317018986_1739598408_n.jpg

News (in German with English subtitles)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGtqn1eUDRI

Meta information

Contributor:Gabriel Weber
Last update24/06/2014