Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority must take its assessment of the destructive and polluting Waitsia gasfield expansion back to the drawing board, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
Along with affected landholders, the Alliance has lodged an appeal against the project which highlights key concerns, including the fact fracking has not been ruled out at the site.
Large unconventional deposits mean the destructive practice will likely be implemented by the proponent (Mitsui E&P 50 percent/Beach Energy 50 percent), unless expressly ruled out.
“Companies have fracked in this region before and, through this appeal, we are simply requesting that fracking be explicitly ruled out by the EPA,” said LTGA Mid West WA spokesperson Simone Van Hattem.
“If the proponent has no plans to frack, this should not be a problem.
“We know there is tight gas in this region, and the only way to get at it is to frack - local unconventional deposits that would require fracking include the Synaphea, Irwin and Senecio gas fields.
“There is nothing to stop this company from applying to frack, now the moratorium has been lifted, even though the local Irwin community has declared since 2015 to remain Fracking Gasfield Free, with 98% of those surveyed in support.”
In its appeal, LTGA also raised concerns the gasfield expansion would likely cause drawdown of the Yarragadee aquifer, which feeds the culturally and environmentally significant Ejarno Springs.
Other concerns raised in LTGA’s appeal include the EPA’s decision not to sufficiently consider cumulative impacts of the expanding gasfields in the region, the impact of flaring methane as part of the project, and fugitive emissions.
Local landholder Diane Horne, who lives two kms from the proposed gasfield expansion said she was opposed to the project due to the impacts it would have on air, and underground water quality, and the increase in noise it would create.
“We are dependent on groundwater here, and if it gets contaminated through fracking, there is no way to decontaminate it,” she said.
“We would be without our water source, which is just so critical out here.
“When there was previously flaring at the site, there was a vibration and a horrible noise coming up through the floor of the house - I didn’t know what it was at the time, and it was horrendous.
“You could see the flames outside in the dark - it was not very pleasant at all.”