Mandy Webb - 30 May 2014


I attended the Public Information event held in the Alice Springs Convention Centre last September with speakers from Mines & Energy, APPEA and CSIRO.  I also attended a recent public meeting hosted by ALEC and Lock the Gate.  In both cases I have read the accompanying literature, and I have also read information on outcomes of fracking in the USA.

My main areas of concern remain the “obvious” ones:

*          The volume of water required, and the source of that water
*          Depletion of aquifers
*          Contamination of potable water supplies
*          Disposal of contaminated water water
*          Surface disturbance including roads and large industrial structures

It is very disturbing that mining and fracking activities are exempt from the Water Act in the NT.

I find some of the information supplied by APPEA to be disingenuous, for example listing only the benign chemical components used in fracking.  Also, experience in the NT shows that fracking is not likely to benefit TO’s or indigenous business development.  On the contrary, it is potentially desecrating.

Reference to ongoing water modeling raises further concern that at present there is insufficient knowledge of the geology and aquifers concerned.  The NTG’s pamphlet on “Unconventional Oil and Gas” refers to industry standards being “amended from time to time” and communications with industry to include “methods of control of any unforeseen problem”.  These comments highlight the unknowns in the whole fracking process.

In such a situation, monitoring cannot ensure well integrity – although it may document it’s failure – a possibly irreversible failure.

Indications from the Mines & Energy meeting were that current regulation was “adequate” – but far from world’s best practice.

In Central Australia our underground water is our life.  We cannot survive without it. 

Once fracked, rock cannot be unfracked.   Even with “world’s best practice” long term effects can include depletion and contamination of water supplies, leakage of methane, seismic activity and permanent eyesores of abandoned wells.

I strongly urge and request the NT Government to step back from what appears to be a headlong rush to exploit the gas without due knowledge, care and regulation.

Yours sincerely

Mandy Webb