National’s Fracking Response | The Jackal

4 Jun 2011

National’s Fracking Response

There's no question that fracking is a destructive method of extracting natural gas from within the Earth. It's been proven to be highly dangerous and environmentally damaging in many reports and accounts over the last few years, something the Acting Minister of Energy and Resources Hekia Parata is shamefully unaware of. The destructive process simply has no place in a country claiming to be 100% Pure.

New information uncovered by The New York Times, which was attained from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shown that the wastewater produced from the process is dangerously radioactive. The amount of radiation has been found to be far higher than allowable safe levels and legal limitations. The fact that the process produces radioactive material means it has no place under New Zealand's nuclear free status and legislation. With all of the byproduct going into groundwater and drinking water supplies in New Zealand, you would expect a comprehensive response from National concerning the health implications of the various toxins being produced.

The method utilized by fracking in New Zealand is no different from that being used in America where the high levels of radiation in waste water are being detected. The secrecy surrounding the permit process and the fact that applications are not notified means the public is largely unaware of the extent of fracking developments in New Zealand. National is intentionally keeping the public in the dark concerning the potential harmful effect from exposure to fracking pollution.
Hydro-fracking waste-water pit containing toxic contaminants.

New Zealand has no infrastructure to process radioactive waste water or the many other dangerous substances the fracking process produces. These highly dangerous substances are just released into the environment. Not only have the respective official bodies not given information on the exact locations of fracking sites in Taranaki, they have not made the public completely aware of the amount or areas where the large quantities of waste water is being dumped.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there has been many recent breaches of consents in terms of quantity and level of poisonous waste going into New Zealand’s waterways. The response to multiple consent breaches was to reduce inspections so that any further breaches go unreported. Meanwhile SAR, BTEX, Radiation and Chloride, which are just a few of the more dangerous by-products are not tested for at all in New Zealand.

Runoff that goes into surrounding river’s and streams from frack sites in Taranaki has no testing. The thousands of dangerous substances known to be produced are sadly allowed to flow into our drinking water supplies unchecked and without any monitoring. Runoff comprises of around half of the copious amounts of waste water produced from the ecologically catastrophic process. The Jackal's not the only one making a song and dance about fracking:

Now back to the investigation... Table 3 on page 15 of this report (PDF) shows the amount of non-compliance for the Inglewood land farm. The operators spread their fracking sludge that contains many toxic materials directly onto the land. Amongst other substances, Hydrocarbons were tested for and shown to be six times over the limit or 26,742 mg/kg above the 4558 mg/kg limit outlined in the consent. As previously mentioned, the only response was to reduce testing. This is but one of the many breaches of resource consents that already place inadequate restrictions on dangerous substances. No fines were imposed and no further measures undertaken to ensure compliance.

Taranaki Regional Council generally relies on the companies to self monitor levels of chemicals released onto the land and into nearby waterways. No wonder John Pfahlert of PEPANZ has been traveling around the country saying "there is no evidence."  What a douche bag! Back in 2007 he also had this to say:

"No one expects environmental sustainability in the form of addressing climate change to come at zero cost. I just doubt whether the public has actually stopped to consider what the real cost to them of the Government's plans will be. It is fashionable to support renewable energy and hybrid cars; accept estimates that "peak oil" is around the corner; and to believe that if Al Gore says the sky is falling this must be the case. I'd like to see us have a more meaningful debate on these matters before we adopt a path to the vision that is unsustainable."

Fracking, coal, tar sands, natural gas, pipelines, offshore and onshore drilling are all economically unsustainable not to mention environmentally risky. There are many alternative and Eco-friendly solutions available... National just has to pull their heads out of the sand. Today, Hekia Parata attempted to respond to some of these pressing matters by making a statement on her facebook page:

"Kia ora Steve, fracking is being successfully used in some areas of onshore Taranaki. Petroleum well drilling and any potential effects that may arise from this activity are regulated in New Zealand by the Department of Labour and the loca...l authorities. The design, construction, operation and maintenance of all well drilling techniques, whether they be fracturing or otherwise, is currently regulated under regulation 12 of the Health and Safety in Employment (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 1999 which are administered by the Department of Labour.

In addition, all drilling operations are subject to the provisions of the Resource Management Act 1991 and must meet any and all obligations required under that Act where the social, environmental, and cultural effects of any proposed activity are assessed and considered by local authorities. If you are aware of any specific situation where hydraulic fracturing is causing harm to the environment or community then, in the first instance, I recommend that you call your local government environment division. Nga mihi, Hekia"

This is reprehensible right wing rhetoric and does nothing to address the many questions that have been raised. Past and present experience shows that we cannot trust Local Government to ensure fracking companies adhere to their consents. The various organizations and laws Hekia Parata mentions are failing in their responsibilities to safeguard the environment and peoples health. National's only concern appears to be making a return on the investment.

Hekia Parata
Parata asks us to blindly trust the companies undertaking fracking in New Zealand, while ignoring the fact that consents are being regularly broken. These secretive fracking companies are not providing contact details to the public and can be considered similar to Greywolf Resouces, a company recently kicked out of New Zealand because of discrepancies within their permit applications. The SFO is currently investigating.

The Minister in question must have been aware of the extensive permits Greywolf applied for to extract mineral wealth from our national parks and reserves. She should have been the first person to raise concerns about Greywolf's dubious credentials. If she was unaware, she has failed as Associate and Acting Minister of Energy and Resources, and should resign her portfolios immediately for incompetency. If she was aware, her silence and complicity makes her an accessory to possible fraud. Parata's continued silence on the matter of Greywolf is telling.

I wonder how many other shonky organizations National has allowed through the door? Clearly they simply do not care about safeguarding our environment and like Ted Lancaster, place the all mighty dollar above everything else.

The Jackal is highly pissed off about National's endorsement of environmentally destructive mining practices that are without proper monitoring and administration processes, and we're not the only ones. It’s time to fundamentally change and rethink just how we protect the remaining credibility of our 100% Pure Clean and Green image and brand, not to mention the environment. Although after National’s first term in Government, I doubt that much of that percentage and credibility remains intact or undamaged.