Origin fracking approval spells more trouble for drought stricken NT

Published: August 22, 2019

Protect Country Alliance condemns the Northern Territory Government for granting dodgy gas company Origin Energy permission to officially begin fracking in the NT.

Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said the majority of Territorians remained opposed to fracking, and for many, the fight was just beginning as the reality of rigs rolling into communities hits home.

“The arrogance of the Gunner Government on fracking has been absolutely appalling,” Mr Sawyer said.

“The politicians in power have not abided by the recommendations of the Pepper Report, despite claiming the contrary.”

Origin’s Environment Management Plan for its Kyalla drilling project was approved on August 13, however only appeared on the government’s EMP website today (August 22, 2019).

The well to be fracked is located on Exploration Permit 117 northeast of Elliott in the Beetaloo Basin. It’s anticipated it will target the Kyalla Shale and is located within the catchment of the culturally and ecologically significant Lake Woods.

“The approved fracking activity allows Origin to use a whopping 38 million litres of water for just one well and 58 million litres for the surrounding civil works,” Mr Sawyer said.

“This is both reckless and deeply unfair at a time when the region is experiencing severe drought conditions and many pastoralists are being forced to destock to conserve groundwater.”

Mr Sawyer said the granting of the Origin EMP was a dark day in the history of the Territory.

“Once those fracking chemicals are sent beneath the earth, there is no way to get them back or make them safe if something goes wrong at high pressure,” he said. 

“Many of the data sheets for the chemicals Origin plans to use are data deficient, stating there is ‘no data available’. By waving these chemicals through, the NT Government is showing total disregard for the health and safety of people and water supplies in the Northern Territory.

“There are also a number of threatened and endangered bird species, such as the Gouldian Finch, that could inadvertently drink from these open air toxic sludge ponds - the so called mitigation measures put forward are not enough.  

"Honeyeaters also plunge into water pools and many burrowing frog species are attracted to standing water. The issue is not food as outlined in the documents. Chemical like surfactants are a key part of the risk.

“The Pepper Inquiry recommended that these pits be covered, yet the government has caved to industry lobbying and allowed Origin to leave them open anyway.

“When there are problems with this well, there is a risk of pollution to underground aquifers, and no way to clean the aquifers after the damage has been done. Territory water should not be gambled away for fracking companies.”

Heather Wilson, a Jingulu elder from Elliott whose land the Origin well is planned for, said she was disgusted by the announcement today.

“It shouldn’t be happening at all because it will destroy our country,” she said.

“We don’t want fracking here, we’ve told Origin and the NT Government too many times. We have lots of plans for looking after our country, helping our young generation with jobs and to learn about our country and culture. The last thing we want is to poison our water and damage the land with fracking.

“The company has heard from hundreds of Native Title holders that it doesn’t have consent for fracking to go ahead. So why is the NT Government giving them permission to poison our land and water?”

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