Origin wants to frack in the NT in the coming months. There is an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for one exploration frack well out for public comment until 30 May.
This is a short overview of some of the key issues arising in the Environmental Management Plan for Origin Energy plan for fracking one gas well at the KYALLA 117 N2 site.
The EMP is for one of the nine exploration wells Origin wants to frack, before deciding to move to production fracking gasfields with hundreds of gas wells.
Many of the data sheets for the chemicals Origin plans to use are data deficient, stating that there is “no data available”.
Some had been accessed by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), but the assessments by NICNAS are effectively useless.
This is because mixtures of drilling or fracking chemicals were not assessed by NICNAS, only individual active ingredients. Plus, the risk assessments in the EMP did not give the full information for some of the chemicals, downplaying some of the risks.
The drill cuttings will contain radon gas, which is the the most important cause of lung cancer in humans after smoking. There is also no detailed treatment plan for the naturally occurring radioactive materials that will come to the surface.
The Origin plan is at odds with the NT Fracking Inquiry recommendation 7.12. The Inquiry stated that: “enclosed tanks must be used to hold all wastewater.”
Yet Origin wants to use open air dams, leading to a serious risk that the toxic wastewater in these tanks will cause harm to birdlife.
Check out this quick video from local vet Sam Phelan about the risks to birdlife.
Origin has said through their consultant AECOM that the Gouldian Finch is likely to occur in the area of the frack site, plus 9 other nationally listed threatened bird species.
Crested Shrike-tit, Grey Falcon, Northern Shrike-tit, Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta) and the Australian Painted Snipe. These species, plus all the birds in the nearby internationally significant Lake Woods area could be put at risk.
Origin are expecting 6 million litres of polluted wastewater to be kept onsite over the wet season. This whole region can flood in the wet season, posing a risk.
The plan did not talk through the risks of when bunding fails in extreme weather, or when linings fail in the record breaking heat, experienced this year.
Leaving toxic waste on site during the extreme weather season is an unacceptable risk. All waste must be removed. The details of how waste will be dealt with and treated must also be resolved before any fracking is approved. At the moment, there is only a vague plan to truck waste to Queensland and dump it there. Queensland already has waste storage and disposal issues from the CSG industry.
The Fracking Inquiry recommended enclosed tanks and careful waste storage. This is not happening.
Here is a photo of enclosed tanks, which is what was expected.
In contrast, here is a photo from the Origin EMP of what they are planning. It’s not a closed tank, or an open one. It’s a series of open-air wastewater dams and a couple of sludge pits/sumps.