Chevron halts shale gas search after protests

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) Chevron said Thursday it has suspended searching for shale gas in northeast Romania following protests in the capital and the local area against fracking.

The company said in a statement its priority was to "conduct these activities in a safe and environmentally responsible manner." It said it had permits to start drilling for shale gas in the village of Pungesti.

The statement came after hundreds of protested Wednesday in a field where Chevron plans to launch its operation, followed by a protest in Bucharest.

Meanwhile, there was another environment related protest in the capital over a Canadian firm's plans to build what would be Europe's biggest gold mine. Demonstrators oppose the mine because of the use of cyanide in the extraction process.

Protesters hurled insults at Culture Minister Daniel Barbu who supports the gold mine project and threw stones at his car cracking the rear windshield, he said. He was jeered Thursday evening during a debate and accused of taking bribes to support the contentious gold mine. Barbu, who was not injured, called the protesters "neo fascists."

Local environmentalists say pumping water and chemicals at high pressure into deep rock formations to free oil and gas could contaminate groundwater. Local authorities say they would hold a non-binding referendum on Nov. 24 on whether to allow Chevron to explore for shale.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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