Media release: Drilling near Norfolk school threatens community health and safety

Oversized trucks on Inland North Road near Tikorangi school (photo by Fiona Clark, June 2013)
Oversized trucks on Inland North Road near Tikorangi school (photo by Fiona Clark, June 2013)

Climate Justice Taranaki is extremely concerned about Tag Oil’s plan to drill for oil and gas less than 700 metres from Norfolk School. Despite the close proximity to the proposed wellsite, Norfolk School is currently not considered an ‘affected party’ by New Plymouth District Council.

“Peer-reviewed health studies in the USA have demonstrated increased cancer and other health risks among residents living within 800 metres of gas wells; and links between human birth defects and the density and proximity of gas wells, for up to 16 km radius. We are appalled by the company’s and council’s apparent lack of concern for community safety, particularly involving school children, parents and teachers.” said Catherine Cheung, Climate Justice Taranaki.

If consents are granted, Tag Oil will be allowed to drill up to eight wells on its new Sidewinder B wellsite. Construction of the wellsite will take 5-6 weeks, requiring 50-56 heavy and light vehicle movements daily. Each well will take 2-3 weeks, round the clock, to drill. Flaring from production testing may occur intermittently for up to 60 days per well. If testing shows viable oil and/or gas, production facilities will be established, involving oil tanks, separators and/or gas pipelines.

“Since 2010, Tag Oil’s Sidewinder wellsite on Upper Durham Road has had multiple spills of diesel, drilling mud and cement, and non-compliance in its discharge of contaminants on land. This is the same company that flared volatile hydrocarbons illegally for months at Cheal. It also trucks drilling wastes from East Coast wellsites across the island to Taranaki for disposal on landfarms, against the deep concerns of iwi and others,” said Cheung.

Tag Oil’s own blog says it all, “Call us greedy, but we want the big wins and the small ones, too.”


Tag Oil’s letter to Norfolk School re proposed Sidewinder B wellsite, Norfolk Road Upper, Inglewood, February 2014.
Norfolk School Board of Trustees’ letter to parents/caregivers, 23 May 2014.
McKenzie, L.M. et al. 2012. Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources. Science of the Total Environment, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.02.018.
McKenzie, L.M. et al. 2014. Birth outcomes and maternal residential proximity to natural gas development in rural Colorado. Environmental Health Perspective
Tag Oil (NZ) Limited Sidewinder wellsite (exploration) monitoring programme report 2010-105 (amended 25 May 2012).
Tag Oil (NZ) Limited Sidewinder exploration wellsite monitoring programme report 2012-2013, May 2014.
Oil firm called to explain illegal flaring, 22 Nov 2012.
Tag Oil Ngapaeruru-1 exploratory well drilling and testing waste management plan, July 2012.
BTW company limited Vanner landfarm monitoring annual report 2012-2013, Feb 2014.
Tag Oil Gisborne District exploratory well drilling and testing waste management plan, Oct 2013.
Tag Oil shallow well development and exploration drilling update, 15 May 2014.


Clarifications (29 May 2014):

NPDC has not identified any “affected parties” as yet but is in the process of doing so.

Since the media release was sent out, Tag Oil has taken the line “Call us greedy…” off their blog.