“It is ironic that the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association (PEPANZ) issued a position paper glorifying fracking as the saviour of the world’s energy problems within hours of a European Union requested study that considers banning the practice outright across Europe” says Emily Bailey, a member of Climate Justice Taranaki.
“While industry PR agents try to convince the public that the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are similar to many found in other commercial uses or in the household, they fail to mention that a recent Taranaki Regional Council report stated the use of highly toxic chemicals including Xcide 102 – a biocide toxic to humans, domestic animals, fish and wildlife; Inflo-150 – a friction reducer containing methanol and ethylene glycol, both highly toxic, hazardous substances; and GBW-41L (Hydrogen peroxide) – an animal carcinogen harmful to humans even at low concentrations in vapour form. Environmental agencies in the US and elsewhere now admit these chemical cocktails have not been tested properly and even minute quantities can cause serious health impacts. Although the Hazardous Substance and New Organisms (HSNO) Act requires any hazardous substance manufactured or imported into NZ to have an approval from Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA), there is no requirement under the regulations for ERMA to be notified when the substance is being used.” says Bailey.
In a study requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, scientists conclude that “at a time when sustainability is key to future operations it can be questioned whether the injection of toxic chemicals in the underground should be allowed, or whether it should be banned as such a practice would restrict or exclude any later use of the contaminated layer… and as long-term effects are not investigated.”
Bailey further explains “while the toxic chemical input is of major concern, the industry fails to respond sufficiently on the many other problems of oil and gas exploration and production, which is becoming more risky as resources run out. These problems include leaks or failures of steel and cement drill casings, deep-well injection of toxic waste which may also increase seismic activity, the storage of explosives on farms and in communities during seismic surveying, increased green house gas emissions, offshore and onshore oil spills that damage fisheries, and waste product contamination of air, water and soils.”
“The industry’s failures are backed up by insufficient laws that often do not require resource consent, do not provide adequate testing or follow-up procedures and rarely allow for public input. The levels for determining who is an affected party are ridiculously low and those parties have little power to change the activities anyway. Landowners have legal rights to refuse entry but are often bullied or coerced into submission as can be seen in the US and Australia.”
“The public doesn’t need industry spin when it comes to fracking. What we demand is that our government follow several US states and France’s lead and ban this dangerous extraction method. Meanwhile landowners can follow Australian farmers and ‘Lock the Gate’ while our communities continue being pro-active and finding solutions to reduce our use of fossil fuels” concludes Bailey.
1. The PEPANZ position paper can be found here:
2. The European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and
Food Safety study is here
3. The Taranaki Regional Council’s fracking statement can be found here