In the midst of a potentially massive oil spill near Tauranga “Climate Justice Taranaki can now point to evidence of council approved spreading of toxic fracking and drilling wastes onto land that will be grazed by cows” says spokesperson Urs Signer. Download full document.
New Plymouth based company BTW has been given a new consent by the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) to spread toxic drilling and frack chemicals onto a farm near Waitara and let it “dilute” into the soil, the ground water and the coastal environment. The dump site contains battery chicken barns, is located only two paddocks away from houses, 25m from the beach and surface water drains and will be used for grazing cows once pasture has grown.
The consent requires testing of soil and a few tests of the coastal environment but after the damage has been done. It does not require monitoring of the farm animals’ health, nor for pollution of ground water or the air. This is despite previous monitoring which showed severe ground water pollution from drilling wastes and despite no monitoring of frack fluid landfarming being done in New Zealand before. There is some evidence in reports of a frack fluid being stored on the neighbouring farm used for a BTW dump site in 2010 but no evidence of where it ended up. Serious air pollution by deadly ozone and other gases have been found at drilling and frack waste sites overseas.
Known chemicals in frack and drilling waste that are dumped here at landfarms are carcinogenic hydrocarbon wastes, asthma, sight and skin disorder inducing chemicals and deadly biocides. Most of these chemicals have not been proven safe. Some chemicals have warnings not to discharge to waterways and the chemical load limits are based on Canadian, US and British levels yet all those countries are currently reviewing their policy due to fracking concerns. Of interest, the chemical glycol (used in Taranaki fracking as ‘Inflo-150) is being used to disperse the oil spill near Tauranga despite major toxicity concerns after its use in the Gulf of Mexico last year.
The consent was also deemed non-notifiable to the general public because TRC think the dump site will have minor adverse effects on the environment based on other landfarms that also do not require public notification.
No consultation was undertaken with tangata whenua either despite it being mandatory under the Resource Management Act and a waahi tapu located on site. A council appointed archaeologist Ivan Bruce claimed he could not find the waahi tapu. He commented in his report that there was a ‘low likelihood that any archaeological evidence would be encountered during landfarming’ and ‘it is unlikely that there will be any adverse effects on Maori culture.’
“The new consent is a rushed change to cover up the fact that TRC was allowing the dumping of frack fluid despite it not coming under the resource consents they had handed out. That they then continue to assume these wastes have minor adverse effects goes against international evidence and there is no local evidence to back up their claims. The toxic drilling waste alone is causing ground water pollution when council actually gets it tested and air pollution and ecological pollution is still not being properly monitored. It’s totally unacceptable.” said spokesperson for Climate Justice Taranaki Emily Bailey.
“A look at landfarming monitoring reports shows that the dumping of frack waste has been going on under the radar for about six years with the Council seemingly unaware. A recent Official Information Act response confirmed that Council doesn’t even know all the chemicals being dumped.” said Bailey.
“The only change the new resource consent required was for the frack waste to be stored temporarily in a plastic-lined pit and then to be landfarmed anyway but monitored separately. The council have written in letters to drilling companies that they think fracking will have minimal environmental effects and could be considered a permitted activity that doesn’t require a consent. There is no independent monitoring. At a deepwell injection site TRC turned up for their once a year test and left without doing any tests because the equipment had already been removed. At other landfarm sites breaches of toxic barium, chlorides and carcinogenic hydrocarbon levels in soils were given the green stamp and future monitoring reduced. Clearly the regional council is not doing its job of protecting our environment but pandering to industry wants” said Climate Justice Taranaki spokesperson Urs Signer.
“We thought it was bad enough in Waitara with the brutal land confiscations of the 1800s, the gas pipelines, well sites, condensate spills and the sewage outfall into our once abundant reefs… but now we’re being ‘fracked’ to pollute the atmosphere and commit global ecocide.” said Waitara local Rata Pue.
Climate Justice Taranaki are holding a public meeting at 5pm on October 17th at the Waitara Town and Country Club to discuss the issue further with the local community and to push for a ban on fracking. The Greens Party has recently launched a nation-wide public petition, calling for a moratorium on fracking.
Hard copies of the BTW Brown Rd landfarm consent application can be supplied on request. This includes photos, maps and chemical analyses.
Previous BTW Landfarm monitoring reports and other petroleum industry company reports are available at http://www.trc.govt.nz/oil-and-gas-compliance-monitoring-reports/
The petition for imposing a moratorium on fracking is available at http://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/files/GreensFrackNoPetition.pdf
Photos shown above are of the landfarm in Waitara. The photographer did not wish to be named.