Veet Karen Hedley - 28 May 2014

I wish to submit the following concerns about hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory.

The history and high risk of failures and accidents associated with fracking across the world demonstrates that it threatens the health of our rivers and aquifers.

I believe that the risk of fracking is too high and the potential for serious long-term impacts too great to be compensate for the short-term financial benefit to the Northern Territory.  There has not been enough research to really understand the impact it has on the health and wellbeing of the population.  So far there are more and more reports of terrible illnesses and side effects of fracking not only in teh USA but also in western Queensland.  Fracking in Queensland has seen the deterioration in health and of whole communities.

I grew up in the Northern Territory and the Industrialisation and fragmentation of our pristine bushlands, is a tradegy for the people living there, for the animals, eco systems and for attracting tourists to the area.  People come to the Territory for its pristine nature and it is one of the only places left in the world.  it is a crying shame to ruin this pristine land, to displace the first people of our land once again and to make people ill.  By wrecking the environment you are going to  ruin any tourism prospect.  Who will want to spend money on a holiday only to see and industrial wasteland and be poisoned.  If you think you can keep a few places clean and available to tourists you really need to think again as this will effect the whole environment.
There are so many risks and the impact on the landscape since one shale gas field typically contains many wells connected by pipelines is horrendous. The risk of gases seeping out into our aquifers, waterways and bores is of great concern and from all the limited research there is i can only see it will inevitably resut in disaster.
Health impacts of fracking caused by the contamination of our air and water will see an overload on the health system and more and more money will need to be spent in that area.

Other points I would like to bring to your attention which require answers :

  1. The EPA has stated that there are too many wells to assess individually and that the NT Government does not have the resources to ensure compliance. Will companies be required to undertake environmental impact assessment of each well?
  2. How can the community have confidence in the government to be able to make informed decisions based on the science and not just the hard sell from mining companies?
  3. Have any independent studies been undertaken to properly assess the impacts of fracking in a tropical monsoonal environment?
  4. How will the potential health, social and cultural impacts of fracking be assessed?
  5. Who pays for environment clean up if fracking allows gas to leak into the groundwater and more methane to be released into to our atmosphere, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions?
  6. Do mining companies have the right to come on to any pastoral lease, private freehold or native title land and frack for gas without free, prior and informed consent by the landholder?
  7. Where landholders do have a right to veto, or to compensation, how is their decision process informed?
  8. What will happen to the millions of litres of contaminated waste water?
  9. Who benefits financially from fracking?
  10.  How will mining companies be subsidized or incentivized to frack using taxpayer dollars?
  11. How can people living in remote communities contribute to this Inquiry?
  12. How will commercial interests be represented in this Inquiry?
  13. Will any forums be held to discuss issues raised by the Inquiry?
  14. Will the Inquiry acknowledge that both mining companies and governments have a vested interest in allowing fracking to go ahead despite the risks it presents, and the bias that this presents?
  15. How will the results of this Inquiry be reported and enacted?
  16. Who will ensure mining companies comply with any guidelines formed as a result of this Inquiry?
  17. If I have concerns about fracking activities taking place on my property, who can I contact?

I call on you to make recommendations for:

  1. Ensuring that any fracking development takes place according to the Precautionary Principle for Ecologically Sustainable Development and that this is incorporated into the relevant legislation.
  2. Funding an independent scientific study which properly assesses all impacts (environmental, health, social and cultural) caused by fracking both interstate and overseas to assess the risk to the Territory.
  3. Independent assessment of the climate impact of fracking, including fugitive emissions.
  4. A moratorium on all fracking until all of these risks have been properly assessed by independent scientists.
  5. Assessing and establishing permanent ‘no go’ zones for sensitive areas as reserved blocks under the Petroleum Act (eg. Drinking water catchments, cultural or environmentally significant areas such as sacred sites or protected areas, groundwater recharging zones, food croplands)
  6. Ensuring the onus of proof to demonstrate that fracking is safe for the Territory’s environment and communities is borne by the mining companies rather than landowners, including the collection of baseline data prior to any impact.
  7. An open, transparent process for information to be provided and distributed throughout communities.
  8. Mining companies must obtain free, prior and informed consent from all landholders as per best practice management.
  9. Mining companies undertaking fracking must be required by law to respond to the criteria for environmental impact assessment as per any other significant development.
  10. Water use by mining companies must come under the Water Act so that companies taking water for fracking are required to apply for a water extraction licence.
  11. Proper resourcing of monitoring and compliance bodies such as the EPA and Department of Mines and Energy.
  12. Provisions to ensure that the mining company bears the financial and moral responsibility for any negative impacts caused by fracking.
  13. The NT Government ceases the use of taxpayer dollars to provide subsidies and incentives to mining companies for the purpose of exploration, extraction and rehabilitation.

With hope and deep gratitude to this land I trust that you will take this matter seriously and reconsider any fracking to occur in the northern territory
Veet Karen Hedley