Name withheld on request of author - 31 May 2014

Dear Commissioner,

I would like to formally express my opposition to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the Northern Territory, for the following reasons.

The potential impact of fracking on water resources is currently unknown. This means, there is a major concern for both water quantity and quality.

Although a significant amount of water is needed for hydraulic fracturing, and it seems impossible for communities to obtain clear and transparent information regarding the exact volumes of water required. The same concern stands for the chemicals required as components of the fracking fluid. This restricts communities’ ability to make informed decisions.

The science is not clear on impacts of fracking operations which go to plan. This throws operations which do not go to plan in an even more dangerous sphere of unknown science. We should avoid taking unnecessary and potentially dangerous risks: fracking in the Territory could harm generations of water consumers to come.

One person uses around 400L of water a day in the Northern Territory. While figures differ significantly between sources, it seems around  1 million litres of water it needed for fracking well- enough water for 2500 people for a day. Water is endemic to life on earth, which goes without saying in the arid land zone in the Northern Territory. Water used in the fracturing process is not currently regulated by the Water Act and companies therefore have an unregulated access to water supplies. Furthermore, the limited regulation for the safe discharge of water recovered after the fracking process is a threat to our water systems and runs the high risk of ongoing contamination to the natural environment.

It is also unknown how and when aquifers will be contaminated by chemicals used in the fracking process. Failures and accidents have been recorded in many places across the world such as Wyoming or Colorado with health and environmental long-term impacts. There is always a risk for failure in the fracking process and this should not be forgotten.

Without clear information on the potential environmental, social, health and cultural impacts, it is impossible to run objective community consultations. Independent studies on these impacts must be performed before granting any licences to better understand these risks and ensure that we can make informed and wise decisions.

Some European countries such as France and Germany have recognised that fracking is a potential hazard and have taken steps to forbid it, in line with the precautionary principle. It is alarming that Australia has so willingly bypassed the process for recognizing potential risks. An objective risk assessment based approach cannot be used at this stage.

Fracking has the potential to have a dire effect on all people, animals and plants in the Territory. I call a ban on fracking until objective independent assessments are conducted in order to allow people to fully understand the potential repercussions.