Media Release: Fracked communities denied protection

TexasNew queries by community watchdog Climate Justice Taranaki and other concerned citizens has revealed no insurance company will cover landowners or communities at risk from fracking or oil drilling exploration. To make matters worse, under the Resource Management Act, the rights and protection of ‘affected parties’ are also waivered if agreements or access is given to oil companies. A landowner who has an oil or gas operation on their land may also be deemed partially liable if an incident occurs that affects the neighbours. Meanwhile an abnormally early summer begins with a multitude of nationwide protests to halt the expansion of fossil fuel extraction.

“We’d been hearing a lot about silencing pay-offs from oil companies trying to cover up accidents, then a friend from Te Tairawhiti forwarded an email from a rural insurance company saying fracking would not be covered as it’s too risky.” said Emily Bailey of Climate Justice Taranaki. “So we asked FMG, Vero, Tower, State, Lumley, RD1, AMI, IAG, NZI, AA, Aon NZ, Crombie Lockwood and Rabobank if they ‘will insure against any problems caused by oil drilling, fracking, flaring or landfarming of drill/frack wastes’. The answers came back as a clear ‘no’ with ‘doubt [that] any insurer both within NZ or internationally would consider including this cover’ although the oil company should have insurance.”

“With many apologies, the insurers suggested landowners and residents take up their issues with the multi-billion-dollar oil companies themselves. As has been seen many times here and overseas, proving fault of the company is a costly and difficult exercise that leads most complainants to sign meagre compensation deals that prohibit any communication from the recipients about the complaint. In the US alone, in a document titled ‘List of the Harmed’, there are 2483 documented cases of serious victims of fracking that have suffered major health problems, deaths of farm animals and pets, and property contamination and devaluation. Who knows how many thousands more are undocumented and what they suffer. It is not enough to say ‘the situation is different in NZ’ if we still don’t know what chemicals are being used here and if companies are repeatedly breaching rules, regulations and guidelines for so-called best practice.”

“It is outrageous that our government allows theses communities to be left at the mercy of these profit-driven resource extraction companies. Not only does this deny proper recompense and protection of communities, staff and the environment but no public records means no prevention of further victims.”

“These companies might think they can drill the frack out of this fertile whenua in exchange for an over-estimated handful of short-term jobs and meagre government royalties but we are seeing these boom-bust mining companies struggle with the rising costs of increasingly difficult extraction as all natural resources dwindle. Protests however are rising around the country and planet, as people like those on the yacht Vega are prepared to put their bodies on the line to protect us. We have had enough and are demanding solutions, not more lies and pollution. We want system change not climate change.” concluded Bailey.

Photo: Disturbing aerial view of current fracking expansion in Texas, 6 August 2013, by Amy Youngs. (Conditional permission to reproduce image attached to link.)

‘List of the Harmed’: 2483 victims of fracking in the USA
The following is an ever-growing list of the documented individuals and families that have been harmed by fracking (or fracked gas and oil production) in the US. PDF version here – List of the Harmed. Updated as of November 20th, 2013. Compiled by Jenny Lisak, Co-director of Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air (PACWA).


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