Dr Laura Metcalf – 21 May 2014

To The Commissioner,

I have some very grave concerns regarding the NT Government's support and encouragement of horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing for shale gas exploration and production.  After some personal research into this matter, the scientific consensus appears to be "we need more research ".  However the NT Government has issued exploration permits and still continues to do so during this Inquiry.  Not only has there been a total lack of public consensus on this matter but also a huge lack of information and education to the public. Unfortunately this type of mining seems to have a much wider effect on the community and environment than other forms of mining, so it is imperative the public has more information on hydraulic fracturing, the most likely regions for production and mining development, and the size of possible gas fields, including the distance of piping etc between each gas well.

The following are some of the concerns I have with regards to horizontal hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory:

It appears the NT Government had already gone into agreements with the Petroleum Industry before any public education or opinion began. I fear the vested interests of the private sector and the NT Government have clouded the science behind hydraulic fracturing. There needs be clear regulations imposed on mining companies of water usage, allocations, waste water management.  There needs to be adequate baseline environmental studies in all habitat regions. There needs to be continued regulated and enforced environmental impact studies with implications if these are not met or pollution levels are exceeded.

The Petroleum Act is inadequate for such an industry to begin in the NT. The Environmental Act is arbitrary and outdated. There needs to be more independent scientific studies done before such an industry is to begin in the NT.

I fear for the health and future of our landscape, flora and fauna, and our children I fear the possibility of the NT becoming a wasteland of deteriorating retired gas wells and a polluted landscape unable to be restored or used in any way.  Who will be responsible for this when the company has long prospered and folded?  Where are the long term studies on hydraulic fracturing effects?  What will the land, air and water quality be in these regions 10, 50, 100 years after a gas well has been capped and retired?  Has there been a study on the integrity of a retired gas well 150 years later?