Mining act amendment to put moratorium on fracking in SA

by Catherine Pye and Clive Carlyle
We are writing this as we are concerned about proposed mining in SA and especially in the Cooper Basin underneath the Great Artesian Basin (aquifer) and in the South East where we live.

There are plans to explore for unconventional gas/shale gas which involves hydraulic fracking near Penola where I live and this is a concern to me.

We have serious health concerns about:

  • surface and ground water contamination,
  • air pollutions, air emissions of toxic and carcinogenic pollutants,
  • land and soil pollution.
  • The chemicals used when fracking and 50% are left underground and the ones that come back in the produced water can contain even more toxic and persistent pollutants.
  • Potential for well casing to fail and the likelihood that this will lead to ground water aquifer contamination over time- we just don’t know how safe it is.
  • Farm Land use for mining and pipelines and roads.
  • Plus there is intense industrialisation of the site, 24 hour noise and light, heavy truck and traffic movements.
  • High water use and issues with produced water disposal and treatment.
  • Health issues for local community near by – one site is only 3 km from Penola.
  • The potential for community impacts with disharmony, increased stress, breakdown of social networks is high ( based on experiences elsewhere).

On the 19th of June 2013, Greens Legislative Council representative, Mark Parnell MLC introduced a Greens’ Private Members Bill entitled Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (HydraulicFracturing) Amendment Bill 2013. Parliament will be vote on this bill on the 13th ofNovember.

This Bill will create a permanent ban on fracking in the following areas:

  • any land used wholly or in part for the business of primary production—in effect, farmland;
  • specific zones, including coastal conservation zones, coastal open-space zones, conservation zones, watershed protection zones, any form of residential zone and also any other zone of a prescribed kind.

In relation to the rest of the South Australia, the Bill proposes a two-year moratorium on fracking, during which time the State Minister must prepare a report on the impact of fracking on water quality, soil health, climate change and local economies.

The experience interstate has shown that once this industry becomes established it is difficult to stop.

We believe that as mining and exploration in productive agricultural land, heritage vegetation and highly populated areas is a new concept, benchmarks must be set. The Mining Act 1971 has represented mining in arid areas for over 40 years. Much has changed and this needs to be reflected in the legislation. This piece of legislation is, for a short time, ‘open for amendment’. Until 13th November.

Now is the time to write to the the Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, Hon Tom Koutsantonis, MP to express any concerns you may have with the Mining Act and the Regulation process, and your MP and ask them to support this bill or just write to the Minister with your concerns. You can find details of your local politicians at following links:
Contact your local MP
Members of the State Upper House

Contact details for Hon Tom Koutsantonis are:
Level 8, Terrace Towers
178 North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000
Email – minister.koutsantonis@sa.gov.au
Phone – (08) 84636560

More information on hydraulic fracturing:
National Toxic Network Australia- Toxic Chemicals in the Exploration and Production of Gas from Unconventional Sources

Tyndall Centre. 2011. Shale gas: a provisional assessment of climate change and environmental impacts

 

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