Police disperse anti-fracking protesters at Chevron exploration site in Romania

BUCHAREST, Romania – Hundreds of Romanians opposed to shale gas extraction in their village on Wednesday scuffled with police at an exploration site where energy giant Chevron plans to start drilling.

The protesters blocked a road and made a human chain in a field where Chevron plans to launch its operation soon, but police intervened and cleared the area. Police spokeswoman Mihaela Straub said no arrests were made in the village of Pungesti, 250 kilometres (155 miles) northeast of Bucharest.

Hundreds rallied later in Bucharest and marched to the headquarters of the public television station, banging drums and blowing whistles to protest against shale gas extraction and also criticize a Canadian firm’s plan to mine gold in northwest Romania that would use cyanide in its extraction process. Police closed a main road in the capital during the protest.

Local environmentalists have said pumping water and chemicals at high pressure into deep rock formations to free oil and gas could contaminate ground water supplies. But Chevron has permits to prospect for shale gas in Pungesti, two other villages, and on Romania’s Black Sea coast.