Fears fracking companies could contaminate communities with coronavirus

Published: March 21, 2020

Indigenous residents of the remote NT community of Borroloola are urgently calling on the NT Government to ban gas company workers from travelling through the Gulf and Barkly region during the coronavirus crisis.

Earlier this month, the NT Government approved Imperial Oil and Gas Pty Ltd to drill a gas well for fracking in its petroleum licence area 85km from Borroloola.

The well, which would then be fracked into the future, is approved for drilling in the coming weeks, an operation requiring hundreds of workers in transit and on site in the region. 

Remote communities in the NT were closed to outside visitors more than a week ago, with the Northern Land Council suspending all permits for non-essential travel.

Then, on Thursday, the Central Land Council backed the call of the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of Alice Springs to declare the entire Northern Territory a special control area.

Garrwa and Yanyuwa man Gadrian Hoosan said he was concerned for his community’s safety, with mining and gas workers seemingly able to continue traveling through the region.

“What is a concern for me is the FIFO workers, we’ve been worried about them - what if they’re affected by Covid-19?

“If there’s a problem with tourists coming here, then there’s a problem with mine and gas workers flying in from international and interstate areas and not being tested before coming through our regions, that’s what worries me.”

As of Saturday, the Northern Territory had recorded at least 3 cases of Covid-19.

In a video uploaded to Facebook, Mr Hoosan also called on the Territory Government to redirect funding from fracking operations to the town’s local health centre, to ensure vulnerable populations have access to adequate healthcare during the pandemic.

“Why are they spending money on a project that’s going to contaminate our water and land when we’re already dealing with one problem (covid-19) already,” he said.

“The Chief Minister should have put more money into our local clinic. I don’t know why they’re pumping money into fracking companies.”

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  • Trish St clair
    commented 2020-03-21 19:03:07 +1100
    I’m absolutely appalled and disgusted at The Chief Minister, as a non-Indigenous person I have tremendous respect and reverence for our precious Indigenous Aboriginal Peoples. Story, culture and tradition must endure and without them, we would be a nation of historical shame and you as we will be complicit in their downfall for failing to act. You may be compared with others who are guilty of genocide whether it’s done with conscience or not, but, as you are now well aware we must only presume you endorse this. Protect and assist these vulnerable Aboriginal People.

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