Bulgarian City to Hold Referendum on Shale Gas

September 5, 2011
Town councilors of the north eastern Bulgarian city of Dobrich have decided to hold a local referendum on exploring for shale gas in the region.

The exact date of the poll will be determined at a sitting of the council on September 20.

In June the Bulgarian government gave US energy giant Chevron a permit to prospect for shale gas in a large section of Dobrudzha, in the north east of the country.

Environmentalists and local residents fear that the technique, which involves pumping unspecified chemicals into the ground at high pressure - so-called hydraulic fracturing - might pollute soils and groundwater in Dobrudzha, one of the most fertile regions in Bulgaria.

Shale gas extraction has been a controversial technique, after a number of wells in the US - the country that pioneered it - leaked, causing massive damage to drinking water.

The US government is currently holding a massive survey of the method and the need to regulate it, while in July France became the first country in the world to impose an all-out ban on it, after protests from local residents.

Wednesday anti-shale gas protests were held in Dobrich, as well as in nearby Black Sea major city Varna, and in capital Sofia.

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