Fracking legislation risks groundwater in dash for Kimberley gas

New gas fracking projects have been proposed for the Kimberley in Western Australia.

The Conservation Council of Western Australia released this statement on May 9.

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The Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) has warned that the state government could be repeating the mistakes made on James Price Point by rushing into a major new industrial gas fracking project in the Kimberley that risks serious and irreversible damage to the cultural and environmental values of the region.

Despite serious community concern about gas fracking, legislation has been introduced to parliament that commits the state to becoming a proponent of big gas fracking developments in the Kimberley.

CCWA Climate and Energy program manager Jamie Hanson said: “This legislation is a red-carpet welcome to industrialisation of some of the most precious parts of Western Australia by an industry with a shocking track record of environmental damage.

“Shale gas fracking is a highly risky technology in which chemical cocktails are pumped at high pressures into gas-bearing rock to crack them and release trapped gas. The process comes with severe risks to human health, groundwater and the environment.

“A string of reports by leading international agencies have reiterated that the risks to water, health and environment of shale gas fracking are very high.

“Groundwater will be polluted as wells begin to fail – as they do. Indeed, reports have shown that over half of gas wells fail inside 30 years, creating pathways for dangerous water pollution to contaminate groundwater.

“In Pennsylvania, where the shale fracking industry has been established for a number of years, 6-7% failed inside the first year alone.

“The legislation will open precious places like Roebuck Plains and the Fitzroy River Valley region to irreversible damage by thousands of gas fracking wells — each of which will leave a scar in the landscape and create risk of serious groundwater contamination.

“The premier is a strong supporter of gas development, but introduction of this bill pre-empts proper process and risks serious and ongoing conflict within both the Kimberley community, and more broadly in WA.

“No environmental assessment of gas fracking in the Kimberley has been conducted, no consultation has occurred with the WA community on whether they want the Kimberley to be turned into a polluted gas field, and no assessment has been made about the costs that could be borne by taxpayers as a result of this project.

“We urge the state government to follow due process, including, at a minimum, conducting detailed assessment of the environmental impacts of gas fracking in the Kimberley and undertaking broad community consultation before rushing ahead with this legislation.

“Failing to do this creates the risk of a repeat of the problems of the James Price Point gas hub proposal — ongoing community conflict, a massive bill for the taxpayer, and the threat of irreversible impacts to some of the most precious places in the world.”

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