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Who is Frackman?

Story by Marie C

Sure, environmental documentaries aren’t very sexy, and coal seam gas development? Even less so. But Frackman is like nothing you’ve ever seen before – and every Australian needs to know about this film. Right now.

I don’t know about you but it’s been a good four years since I attended a protest rally to make a stand against government policy. Granted, I was overseas at the time and swept up in a sea of tear gas-induced riots in reaction to austerity measures in Europe. (The Greeks know how to make themselves heard, don’t you worry about that.)
Am I advocating that kind of anarchy? Er, no. But I can’t think of another, milder time in which I partook in a little dissent to rewrite the rulebooks. When instead of feeling unhappy about the way our country was conducting itself, and ultimately giving in, I actually stood up and demanded to be heard.
Luckily there are everyday people still fighting for the rights of the rest of us.

Dayne Pratzky’s one man versus the government battle represents an unfortunate quandary for everyday Aussies: what to do when the government fronts up to your house one day and says, we’re taking over your land to put in gas wells and there’s nothing you can do about it. Say “Righty-o then” and be on your merry way? Dayne and his neighbours have unwittingly become the centre of a massive industrial landscape – the business of coal seam gas development – and they have no legal right to stop mining on their land.
“When governments fail us,” screams the tagline on the movie’s poster, “ordinary people have to become heroes”.

Enter the Frackman.

Coal seem gas development – what is fracking?

I don’t mind admitting I actually had no idea where the gas that turns my stovetop on ACTUALLY comes from. Zero. Is it manufactured like the gas that makes mineral water bubbly? If it’s natural, how do you catch it? Or look for it? How do you know where to find it if it’s invisible? So. Many. Questions. (It’s probably better if I just stop talking now.)
I went digging and found this handy explanation on the Australia Pacific LNG website:

Natural gas is found in coal deposits. The coal and gas are formed from plant matter under pressure over many millions of years. Coal seam gas is used in the same way as any other form of natural gas for cooking and heating as well as in industrial processes and electricity generation.

To extract it, more than 30,000 wells are being sunk in the state of Queensland to reach the gas that typically lies 200m to 1000m below surface. (How did they first find out it existed that deep? How?) But herein lies the problem. Many of these locations will require a controversial process known as “fraccing”, another term for hydraulic fracturing, whereby a fluid made of water, sand and chemical additives is pumped down the well to *flush* out the gas. (*Disclaimer: that is my layman’s definition. I can’t say I understand the process much beyond that.) Environmentalists are concerned this is polluting our waterways and wreaking havoc in general.

Read the full story on Cinemazzi



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