A Hollywood actor has written to Minister for the Environment Mark H Durkan over the planned Woodburn Forest drill project.
Mark Ruffalo, who played the Hulk in the Avengers series of films, is founder of US-based Water Defense.
He penned the letter along with the organisation’s chief technology officer and investigator, Scott Smith.
The development came after Water Defense was contacted by residents and organisations in Northern Ireland concerned about the potential for water contamination as a result of the project.
Water Defense is a non-profit organisation that has travelled around the world testing water, educating people about toxic chemicals and pathways of contamination, and advocating for people’s right to clean drinking water.
The letter states: “It is troubling that your department, whose responsibility is for the environment, is not intervening to stop this activity that appears to be unlawful given the fact that a Waste Management Plan (The Planning of Management of Waste from Extractive Industries 2015) was required before permitted development was granted and that environmental considerations have not been adequately assessed.
“It is extraordinary that on this sensitive site there has been no public scrutiny through the planning process and there has been no Environmental Impact Assessment.”
The correspondence also notes that Professor Anthony Ingraffea, a renowned expert on unconventional drilling from Cornell University, deemed it ‘irrational’ for the drilling to go ahead.
“We implore you to protect your citizens by protecting their water,” the actor wrote.
“The small amount of oil and gas that can be extracted from that site pales in comparison to the nightmare that contaminating the water supply for over 131,000 residents in your community would cause.”
Water Defense is also sending water testing kits to local residents and organisations including Stop the Drill, and will be in communication with them to perform water tests.