EPA fails to assess 'fracking' in the Kimberley

In late January, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decided not to assess a proposal for fracking in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.

Buru Energy plans to conduct 34 fracks in the region starting this year.

It intends to conduct most of these fracks at four existing wells: two at Yulleroo, 90 kilometres east of Broome, and two at Valhalla/Asgard, 320 kilometres east of Broome.

Environs Kimberley director Martin Pritchard said Buru’s plans in the Kimberley would require 31 million litres of water and 1.5 million litres of chemicals. This is the largest fracking proposal to be put forward so far in Western Australia.

This is the latest example of the EPA’s failure to protect the environment against the fracking industry. It follows a similar decision not to assess fracking next to the Mt Lesueur National Park, a region of high ecological significance in WA’s mid-west.

The Canning Basin is the geological formation sitting under much of the Kimberley and the Pilbara. It holds an estimated 229 trillion cubic feet of unconventional gas.

It is unsurprising, then, that the petroleum industry and the Liberal state government are so determined to push ahead with their fracking plans for the region.

Yet fracking will not go ahead in the Kimberley without a fight.

An important precedent has already been set, demonstrating that it is possible to defeat the petroleum industry. The James Price Point gas hub was to be part of the infrastructure for a fracking industry in the Kimberley, but it was defeated last year by a mass movement.

The anti-fracking movement is gathering steam in Western Australia, and starting to win some outcomes.

Divisions are emerging in the state government. The Water Corporation is calling for a ban on fracking near public drinking water areas.

A WA Department of Health study also found that fracking risks groundwater contamination.

There is considerable interest in the issue among Broome residents. About 85 people attended a Buru Energy information session in Broome in January.

No Fracking WAy, Environs Kimberley and the Conservation Council of WA have all lodged appeals against the EPA decision.

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