Allegations Tamboran directed workers to spray contaminated drill wastewater for up to five days around its worksite on a cattle station demonstrate the failure of the Territory Government to regulate the dangerous industry.
Despite telling the NT’s Environment Protection Authority that spraying of the contaminated water stopped as soon as senior company officials were informed, and claims in its incident report that the dust suppression incident was a result of “human error/oversight”, whistleblower contractors say they were “directed by Tamboran to keep spraying the contaminated water.”
Territorians concerned about fracking are now renewing their demand that there be no production-scale fracking unless the Pepper Inquiry recommendations are implemented in full, including a Federal Water Trigger.
Katherine based vet Dr Amy Trembath said, “The industry is only at the exploration phase, and yet we are hearing about very worrying incidents that potentially pose a real threat to the health of both humans and animals.
“There is serious uncertainty around what might happen with dumping of drilled-related waste water, which can be contaminated with chemicals and heavy metals, on the surface.
“It is potentially very dangerous to the Territory’s massive and very important cattle industry. There’s also the risk these heavy metals, if present, could accumulate in cattle, and that means risking the health and wellbeing of consumers.
“Incidents like this, where heavy metals may have been spread into the soil and contaminated its microbiome, pose a long term risk to the environment and anything that relies on that environment.
“It's also not just the health risk - alleged incidents like this are potentially damaging to our overseas market but of course also to our domestic market.”
Katherine-based Protect Big Rivers spokesperson and veterinarian Dr Sam Phelan said, “While Tamboran’s offices sit by the water at Manly in NSW, up in the Territory contractors, remote community residents, and pastoralists are raising potentially serious health concerns about the company’s drilling and fracking operations.
“If these allegations are accurate, then human health, as well as the health of livestock and wildlife is being put at risk.
“Veterinarians raised concerns that something like this could happen during the Pepper Inquiry. If the Fyles Government had implemented the 135 recommendations of the inquiry in full, as NT Labor has promised to do, which included wastewater being stored in enclosed tanks, I doubt this alleged incident would have occurred.
“We are watching closely to see if Tamboran will just get away with this. Natasha Fyles needs to decide whether she cares more about the health of Territorians, our water, and our clean pastoral industry, than the profits of the multinational gas industry."