Origin Energy’s newly released Environment Management Plan for four exploratory frack wells in the Northern Territory provides a terrifying glimpse into the future and the water that will be required if full scale production goes ahead, according to Protect Country Alliance.
The EMP, which was published yesterday, concerns Origin’s Amungee and Velkerri projects, which will host two new wells each and are located southeast of Daly Waters. It brings the number of exploratory fracking wells owned by Origin in the area to six in total.
The plan reveals the company expects to use a staggering 525 million litres of water during the three year project, which it will access from the Gum Ridge formation - the equivalent of about 210 Olympic sized swimming pools.
The sheer volume of water required for the exploratory project prompted concern from local pastoralists and Traditional Owners, however these concerns were brushed aside by Origin in its EMP. Several pastoralist water bores surround Origin’s project which rely on the Gum Ridge formation.
The documents also reveal fracking the four wells will lead to the creation of about 56 million litres of salt-heavy wastewater.
PCA also has concerns about the use of phytotoxins in Origin’s fracking fluid concoction, owing to the presence of stygofauna (aquatic animals that live in groundwater) in aquifers beneath the drilling site that may be impacted.
As well, Origin plans to use chemicals described as “possible carcinogens” in its fracking fluid slurry.
PCA spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said the sheer amount of water required for just four wells offered a deeply concerning window into how much water would be lost if the fracking industry reached production phase in the Territory.
“The impact of Origin’s exploratory fracking wells on Territory groundwater aquifers is worrying enough, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg if the company decides to ramp up to full throttle production,” he said.
“Origin will be using vast quantities of groundwater to drill and frack and that will come at a huge cost to cultural values, other water users, and the environment.
"What's also worrying is the NT Gunner Government is still yet to implement a water allocation plan for the Beetaloo. It's paved the way for the thirsty frackers, but with no way to know how water will be safeguarded for communities.
“The experience in Queensland and the USA shows us that once commercial production begins, fracking wells multiply like pockmarks across the landscape, polluting waterways, and industrialising rural landscapes with a network of well pads, pipelines, and access roads.
“We can’t allow this destruction in the Territory and we certainly can’t afford the climate risks of these projects - Territory weather extremes are already severe and rapidly worsening.
“The use of toxins in fracking fluid that are harmful to stygofauna demonstrates the importance of Strategic Regional Environmental and Baseline Assessment (SREBA).
“Unfortunately this unfinished process has already been mired in controversy and accusations of government bias in favour of the fracking industry.”