Andrew Laughton – 27 May 2014

Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping thousands of liters of toxic chemicals into the ground.
Historically, in a large number of sites around the world these toxic chemicals end up in drinking water supplies and aquifers, frequently with the onus of proof being to prove contamination rather than to prove the practice is safe.
This onus of proof to prove contamination can be simply thwarted by not taking measurements, or by destroying or discrediting measurements that are taken.  
The vast majority of people would simply not be able to afford using the legal system to get compensation in any case, and for those few that can afford it, the onus of proof is very much against them.   It is a very risky, very expensive exercise for any victims.

The expected lifetime of these fracking wells is measured in years, while the toxic chemicals will take decades, if not centuries to dilute to the point where the water can be potable again.
In a lot of fracking cases the contamination of drinking water is within days, however it is possible that it could take years to appear, at which time that fracking company has potentially long since gone bankrupt before any contamination is even detected.

For any fracking company to provide insurance against contaminating drinking water for the next 100 years is simply not practical, however at least some public liability insurance should be compulsory.

The entire point of fracking is to provide a short term source of energy, but what is needed is a long term source of energy, or more to the point, a method of storing energy on a large scale so that it can be used on demand.

Because of the extreme liability from fracking it should only be done as a matter of national security and by a government body that is completely open and transparent.  This will never be possible with a privately owned company due to the large conflict of interest.
The culture within most government departments at the moment is strongly against being open and transparent, and so fracking should not be started until this culture has changed.

This submission may appear to deviate from the terms of reference, however a view of the bigger picture is also needed.

Permission is granted to cite the author, Andrew Laughton.

Andrew Laughton.