Shell Taranaki Ltd. (formerly STOS) has applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for consents to use a jack-up rig for drilling at the Maui gas field and to discharge harmful chemicals at sea.
The New Plymouth District Council proposes to borrow close to $30 million on a new, larger airport terminal with a unique cultural design. Climate Justice Taranaki Inc. raises serious questions about the risk assessment and business case behind the proposal.
“I was gobsmacked when I arrived at the airport, and there was a huge drill rig right there in front of the café. It was last September. It was apparently there to plug old wells.
There is no relief in thinking that the airport wells are not producing and are therefore safe. In fact, the likelihood of an abandoned well leaking increases over time. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has made it clear that once a well is abandoned and ‘signed off’, any leaks or other problems become the responsibility of the landowner,” said Catherine Cheung, Researcher of Climate Justice Taranaki Inc..
The danger of oil and gas activities, whether it is current or historic, is real. Just last month, a Colorado home was blasted to the ground, killing two people. The cause of the explosion was a gas leak from a cut pipeline that’s connected to an old gas well that was recently restarted.
“Did Council take such risks and liability into account when conducting the risk analysis for the new airport terminal? What if an oil company decides to resume drilling, fracking, production or injection activities onsite? Is Council certain that the health and safety risks associated with the increase in aviation and passenger traffic that they hope will follow, are justified or manageable?” Cheung asked.
Currently in the New Plymouth District Plan, there are no rules specifying the minimum separation distances required between hazardous facilities like wellsites and sensitive landuse like schools and airports where people congregate.
The South Taranaki District Council, under pressure from the oil companies, dropped all the specified setback requirements, despite Taranaki Energy Watch’s expert witnesses arguing strongly for minimum setbacks based on analysis of effects and risks to human health, property and the environment.
“We are gutted that NPDC has joined the oil companies and Stratford District Council in opposition to Taranaki Energy Watch’s appeal on STDC’s decisions. We expect Council to care for our health and safety, not to ally with oil companies when considering rules that could potentially jeopardise people’s lives,” Cheung said.
There are other risks that Council must evaluate when considering the airport expansion – the impacts of climate change and the associated extreme weather events and sea level rise.
“There is no doubt that coastal hazards are increasing over time. The Environment Commissioner has warned that even a small amount of sea level rise will substantially exacerbate the costs of flooding and storm surges. When risks become uneconomic, an asset like the airport could become ‘uninsurable’. Council’s business case on the proposed airport expansion totally ignores climate change and the financial risks and liability associated with it,” Cheung concluded.
Climate Justice Taranaki’s submission to NPDC re the proposed new airport terminal is here: https://climatejusticetaranaki.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/cjt-submission-on-npdc-annual-plan-re-airport-expansion-and-water-rates-final.pdf
Risks ignored in proposed new airport terminal (Opunake & Coastal News, 26 May 2017 p.16)
New Plymouth airport upgrade given the go ahead (Taranaki Daily News, 7 Jun 2017)
Debate after New Plymouth airport upgrade triples in cost (Radio NZ, 7 Jun 2017)
On 17th April, a home in Colorado was blasted to the ground, killing two people. The home was 178 feet (54 metres) from a recently restarted old gas well operated by Anadarko. The cause of the explosion: gas leak from a cut flow line off the gas well.
Press release: CJT call for independent investigation on the risks of extreme weather and earthquakes on aging oil and gas infrastructure25/11/2016
Climate Justice Taranaki says an independent investigation is critical to determine the cause and extent of damage on the OMV Maari oil platform and associated infrastructure, and to assess the risks of aging oil and gas installations failing.
Wild weather and heightened earthquake risk have prompted OMV to evacuate its staff off the Maari oil platform where a crack was discovered during a scheduled underwater check. Read the rest of this entry »
The last few weeks and months have seen a series of encouraging wins on the environmental front: Read the rest of this entry »
Media Release: Climate Justice Taranaki seek oil/gas prohibition in sensitive areas to protect human health and safety21/06/2016
This morning, Climate Justice Taranaki spoke at the Proposed South Taranaki District Plan hearings. Below were our key points:
Hundreds of scientific studies concerning oil and gas development have been conducted internationally in recent years. A vast majority (84 percent) of such research has revealed signs of health impacts on nearby communities. Notably, a detailed study in Colorado concluded that residents living within 800m from gas wells were subject to almost twice the cancer risk than those living beyond 800m. Read the rest of this entry »
It is WOMAD weekend in New Plymouth again – a time to celebrate the World of Music, Arts and Dance, to promote cross-cultural awareness and tolerance. How wonderful!
There is just one problem, Shell and Todd Energy are two main sponsors of WOMAD in NZ.
The two companies, individually or jointly, have drilled and extracted oil and gas from numerous wells around Taranaki. To name a few, Todd Energy’s Mangahewa wellsites in Tikorangi have been drilled, redrilled, fracked, and fracked again recently. Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS) has been busy seismic blasting many farms in South Taranaki for months, in search of any remaining oil or gas in and around the Kapuni field. Last year Shell got another 35 year consent to continue its drilling, extracting and discharging wastes from the aging Maui gas field offshore. With the low oil prices, Shell is now reviewing its operations in NZ, despite its firm statement last year that it’s here for the long haul.
Some might ask: Could their sponsorships and Shell’s zero waste promotion at WOMAD be simply greenwashing opportunities for the companies, or an investment for their social license to continue operation here?
We say: Yes to sustainable festivals and climate justice, Yes to WOMAD, but NO to fossil fuel company sponsorships”!