Donna Schubert – 1 May 2014

To The Commissioner,

Re: EP(A)219, EP(A)255, EP(A)257, EP167, EP189

We are writing with concerns regarding the application for exploration over the afore-mentioned areas in our region, either granted or pending. There has been no information or notification as yet to the people of and living in these regions from NT Gas, nor the NT Government regarding the aforementioned applications. We are concerned about the lack of scientific studies to guarantee safety and security of our water, soil and air.

The following are questions we need answers to in order to feel safe about the prospect of Shale Gas production in our region:

  1. Who will/or has performed baseline environmental studies before explorative drilling occurs?
  2. Does the Petroleum Act require these studies?
  3. If yes, will they be done by an independent company (absolutely no affiliation with unconventional gas extraction)?
  4. If baseline studies have met (best world practice) then will the government enforce periodical environmental studies?
  5. Will these studies perpetuate beyond the life of the gas field?
  6. Will there be a point of contamination by the gas field (to groundwater, surface water, soil, fauna, flora or air) whereby the gas field may be deemed too great an impact that closure is the only outcome?
  7. If contaminants indirectly or directly related to the shale gas extraction process are found, then who will be held accountable? Is the company held accountable?
  8. And what of limited liability or company closure?
  9. Is there a bond the company is required to pay?
  10. How much is the bond?
  11. Is this figure realistic if the outcome of shale gas extraction is hazardous?
  12. Will the government take full accountability if the company fails to do so?
  13. Who will guarantee the security of our water, air and soil safety?
  14. Are there peer reviewed long term independent scientific studies of Shale Gas extraction?
  15. Have there been any peer reviewed independent scientific studies done on tropical/subtropical/dry savannah regions?
  16. How will the contaminated water byproducts from shale gas extraction be stored in a wet/dry tropical region?
  17. Will the water be released into the land/rivers/ocean by process of dilution during the set season?
  18. Has there been any scientific peer reviewed independent studies done on water release by dilution during a monsoonal rain or similar?
  19. What will be the implications of having a gas field within an area that requires bushfire management as land management?
  20. How will bushfires be managed safely with regards to possible gas leakages during production and the future of expired wells?
  21. Are there any peer reviewed independent scientific studies done in a region where bushfires are essential to the regeneration and management of the land?
  22. Are the casings of expired wells absolutely guaranteed not to leak? (Metal rusts and concrete becomes permeable over time.)
  23. Again who is accountable if these guarantees are made and fail?
  24. Who can guarantee future use of the land in an expired gas field?
  25. Will the area still be viable for future generations for agriculture, tourism, living, town expansion, pasture, indigenous land use, fishing hunting, camping etc?
  26. Who will be responsible for future health effects directly or indirectly related to shale gas extraction?
  27. Who will monitor possible effects before they become hazardous?
  28. What independent scientific health studies will be taken out perpetually from the onset of shale gas extraction?
  29. If there are any ill health effects related to the extraction process and of expired gas fields, who will be held accountable?
  30. How will people be compensated for loss of health, lifestyle, livelihood, and land price declines?

Answers to all of the above questions are essential before there can be any consideration of shale gas exploration or extraction. As members of the Northern Territory community who live with and on this land we need answers before we can feel safe living amongst a gas field. Shale gas extraction has been occurring for decades in the USA already with many implications to health, land, water and soil. We need guarantees in the Northern Territory that similar problems will not occur here.

Donna Schubert