The “oilmen”, as the locals call the North American companies Apache, Chevron and others, arrived in the city of Allen in 2012, located 1,120 kilometers from the city of Buenos Aires with promises of prosperity and great profits. However, in these five years the effects of Fracking have caused a social and environmental crisis.Visit from Uruguay Libre to the Province of Río Negro.
Two members of the Uruguay Libre movement, Ana Filippini and Isabel Dominguez, invited by the international organization 350.org. They visited communities in the Province of Rio Negro, in southern Argentina, affected by the environmental and health impacts of Fracking, the exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbons with the hydraulic fracturing technique.
The city of Allen is one of the medium-sized cities, of about 26,000 inhabitants, located within the Upper Rio Negro Valley. Known as the Capital of the Pear, fruit growing was one of its main activities. The city center is located 6 km north of the river coast and very close to the edge of the plateau (regionally known as barda).
One of the main problems has been generated by the large amount of toxic mud accumulated from drilling. The mud is deposited in pools in the high plateaus, the fences, and it has already happened that the rains wash this mud down to the valley. The authorities are not aware of the degree of toxicity of these sludge and have even proposed to fill the wells in the streets of the city with them. The specialist Roberto Ochandio (1) assures that there are many questions for which the authorities have not yet answered. Among others, what exactly is the chemical composition of these fracking wastes, if they are contaminated with radioactive elements, who is in charge of the control, who will be in charge of the necessary laboratory analysis to determine the hazardousness of the waste and disposal. end of them. In relation to health problems, locals say that more miscarriages are occurring, that more children are born with malformations and there are more children with asthma. Ochandio assures that this is the case since in the United States studies were carried out in Fracking areas where the effects reported by Allen's people could be verified. Many health professionals who are aware of this situation have left the city, so there are also problems derived from the lack of professionals in healthcare services. This brings about social unrest, as people accuse professionals of being unethical for not making complaints or keeping statistics on new health problems in the city. There are problems with the water. In addition to being contaminated with hydrocarbons and heavy metals, the Rio Negro, the closest water source to the city of Allen, has problems of supplying drinking water to the population. In March 2016 the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ruled that Allen's water contained fuel and was not drinkable. Schools even had to be closed so that the children did not drink the water that came out of the taps, with the smell of diesel fuel, an oily appearance and with particles similar to talc or ash.
Perhaps the most painful part because it affects many people has to do with fruit growing. Many producers have sold or leased their fields to oil companies and have left the city. Those who still produce have a hard time selling their produce and the fact that the market has been invaded by Chilean apples with a stamp that reads “Fracking Free Chilean Apples” only makes the situation worse. There are problems with wells abandoned by oil companies that have no rational closure plan. The underground seeps from these wells have affected the fruit trees and there are fields where all the trees have died.The height of gas extraction is that the houses near the wells, most of them cracked by vibrations, in the harsh winter that until the water freezes, they have no gas!
Many populations in the Province of Rio Negro are mobilized to achieve a ban on fracking. 37 cities in the province of Entre Rios, 70 municipalities in Brazil, 5 departments in Uruguay, 3 states in the USA, and 4 European countries have already banned fracking. Uruguay Libre's visit to the Argentine Province of Río Negro provided us with further evidence on the negative impacts of fracking. In Uruguay we have a bill to prohibit Fracking under study in Parliament. It is imperative that it be approved as soon as possible.
Contact: Ana Filippini 098407572