Unchecked fracking may create salty wasteland


Sir – Baseline studies for the fracking industry are being watered down under new draft terms of reference.
Fracking is already rupturing land and groundwater in the Territory, however the NT Government has only just released its Strategic Regional Environmental Baseline Assessment (SREBA) terms of reference for community consultation.
We know that Santos is now fracking.
What’s more, the SREBA terms of reference have been significantly weakened when compared to what the Pepper Inquiry originally envisioned they would be.
It stated: “In a number of cases, the panel has recommended that a strategic regional environmental and baseline assessment (SREBA) must be undertaken to provide the additional scientific knowledge and baseline information required before a final risk assessment can be made.”
There are examples where this is not happening. For example, Minister Lawler recently admitted the Water Resources Division had not conducted investigations into the Moroak Sandstone and does “not hold data regarding water levels and pressure in the formation at depth”.
This is just one of many glaring holes in knowledge which need to inform the final risk assessment, as the Moroak is four times saltier than the sea and over 1000 PSI in pressure, as drilling log files on the governments’ own website indicate.
The risks of it contaminating the freshwater aquifers near the surface and turning the area into a salty wasteland unsuitable for agriculture, wildlife or humans is very real. It would be a terrible tragedy to turn nearby Lake Woods into a saltwater lake because of ignorance.
Water from this region also flows into the Roper, Hodgson, McArthur and Daly River catchments.
Currently the Gunner government is ignoring perhaps the most important piece of the Pepper Inquiry.
Graeme Sawyer
Protect Country Alliance
UPDATE 10.40am
Protect Country Alliance claims coal mining and gas companies exploiting Australian resources have once again dodged corporate responsibility, with some paying little or no tax in the 2017-18 financial year.
The release of the Federal Corporate Tax Dataset for the period reveals that Santos, which has recently begun fracking in the Northern Territory, earned a staggering $3.5bn in the 2017-18 financial year, but also paid zero tax.


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