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Gaz de schiste : l’incroyable laxisme américain

Gaz de schiste : l'incroyable laxisme américain
L'exploitation des gaz de schiste n'a assurément pas fini de faire parler d'elle : l'Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a relevé des taux de radioactivité de cent à mille fois supérieurs à la normale dans des eaux de Pennsylvanie

Une enquête minutieuse réalisée par nos confrères du New York Times a ajouté aux troubles autour de l’exploitation des gaz de schiste outre-Atlantique.

Le fléau vient des États-Unis, d’un pays où les considérations environnementales peinent à exister face à la toute-puissance des lobbies fossiles et où elles ont été littéralement exclues du débat politique pendant des décennies. Également source de tensions au Québec, il a ensuite traversé l’océan et menace aujourd’hui l’Europe.

Certains décideurs sont peut-être sourds et aveugles. Sans doute n’ont-ils pas vu Gasland, ce documentaire effrayant consacré aux répercussions écologiques et sanitaires de la fracturation hydraulique, et privilégient-ils les emplois que peut créer l’exploitation des gaz de schiste, laquelle peut aussi – surtout – permettre d’atteindre l’indépendance énergétique. Sauf que c’est une eau mélangée à du sable et à des produits chimiques, à la couleur très douteuse et à forte teneur radioactive qui s’écoule des lavabos de certaines populations concernées.

Vives inquiétudes sur la Pennsylvanie et le Texas

L’Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) américaine a procédé à de nombreuses investigations, indiquant notamment dans une étude réalisée en 2009 et demeurée confidentielle qu’en Pennsylvanie, le taux de radioactivité de certaines eaux atteint des niveaux cent voire mille fois supérieurs à la limite autorisée par le gouvernement fédéral. Accablantes, ses conclusions n’ont cependant pu empêcher l’escalade. Nos confrères du très influent New York Times ont épluché quelque trente mille pages de documents de cet organisme que les républicains s’emploient à ligoter.

Les stations d’épuration de l’État (qui compte actuellement soixante et onze mille puits actifs de gaz de schiste, soit trente-cinq mille de plus qu’en 2000) n’étant pas tenues de mesurer la radioactivité de leurs eaux, il est impossible de savoir si le traitement des effluents de l’industrie et la dilution naturelle par l’eau des rivières ramènent la radioactivité à des seuils plus décents, indique le quotidien. Les stations de traitement de l’eau, qui alimentent les habitants en eau potable, n’ont quant à elles pas mesuré la radioactivité depuis… 2006. Sachant que l’exploitation des gaz de schiste s’est intensifiée deux ans plus tard, il y a urgence à se mettre à jour.

« Avec la fracturation hydraulique, un puits génère parfois plus de quatre millions de litres d’eaux usées qui contiennent souvent des sels hautement corrosifs, des cancérogènes comme le benzène et des éléments radioactifs comme le radium, tous pouvant être présents naturellement à des centaines de mètres sous le sol », ajoutent nos confrères, qui précisent qu’une partie des eaux usées gagnent ensuite la rivière Monongahela. Ce sous-affluent du Mississippi rejoint l’Allegheny dans le centre-ville de Pittsburgh pour former l’Ohio, tant et si bien que huit cent mille habitants sont à présent menacés.

Les Pennsylvaniens ne sont néanmoins pas les seuls à trembler. Au Texas, fief de la famille Bush où quatre-vingt treize mille puits actifs de gaz de schiste ont été recensés, les structures hospitalières ont ainsi observé une augmentation préoccupante du taux d’enfants asthmatiques. Celui-ci atteignait l’an passé… 25 %, soit dix-huit points de plus qu’avant l’octroi des autorisations pour exploiter les gaz de schiste.

Cette flambée n’est sans doute pas le fait du hasard. Fera-t-elle recouvrer la raison aux autorités ? Les pressions des industriels étant considérables, on peut hélas fortement en douter. À plus forte raison avec un Congrès tenu par les républicains.

Crédits photo : Wikimedia Commons – Ruhrfisch / David Schwab
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  • daniel d

    Merci de relayer ces informations qui font froid dans le dos et donnent à réfléchir sur la conduite que les Européens -et surtout les Français- doivent impérativement tenir face à ce problème.

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