Inter-American Commission to analyze fracking’s impacts on human rights
Photo: WCN 24/7 (CC BY-NC 2.0).
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24 September 2018
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will hold an informative hearing on October 3, 2018 to better understand the situation of fracking in the Americas and the human rights violations it’s causing. The hearing is being held in response to a request brought forth by 126 Latin American organizations, united in the Latin American Alliance on Fracking.
The hearing will take place in Boulder, Colorado during the Commission’s 169th period of sessions. In it, human rights defenders and representatives of affected communities will present detailed information on the documented human rights impacts, as well as the potential risks, of fracking in Latin America. The Alliance seeks to propose a series of recommendations to the Commission and governments of the region in order to guarantee human rights when faced with the exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbon reserves.
According to the hearing request, there are approximately 5,000 fracking wells throughout Latin America. In Argentina, there are roughly 2,000 wells. In Chile, according to official data, 182 wells have been approved, the large majority in Tierra del Fuego. In Mexico, there are more than 3,350 fracking wells, although the signatory organizations indicated there are challenges in terms of access to this information. In Brazil and Colombia, contracts have been signed that allow for exploration and exploitation. In Bolivia, prospecting and sample studies of unconventional deposits have begun.
Organizations from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay signed the request for a hearing before the Commission in July.
“Fracking’s advance in Latin America is being carried out blindly because neither the chemicals used, nor their synergistic effects, nor the actual and potential risks, nor the effectiveness of mitigation measures are known with any certainty,” explained Claudia Velarde, attorney with the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA). “What is known is the damage fracking causes to the environment, the quantity and quality of water, and the impacts it has on health and human rights.”
While fracking is promoted across Latin America, various nations, states and provinces of Europe, the Americas and Oceania have banned the technique due to the negative impacts it has had on the environment and public health.
The request to the Commission emphasizes, “none of the nations where fracking has been implemented have a comprehensive knowledge of the irreversible damage it causes to the environment and the lives of individuals and communities. However, abundant scientific evidence exists on fracking’s negative impacts due to the extensive use of the technique in the United States.”