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Time for Australian governments to ban fracking

The Lock the Gate Alliance has renewed calls to ban hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') in the coal seam gas industry in the light of a recent study in the US into the quality of drinking water that is in close proximity to gas wells.

The peer-reviewed study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by four scientists at Duke University. They found that the methane, which was the same type as that being extracted from hundreds of metres underground, was present at dangerous levels in nearby tap water. They concluded that this gas was finding its way into aquifers from which drinking water supplies were obtained.

Fracking has long been blamed for many of the problems with underground water contamination and the documentary Gasland reported several examples of residents being able to set their tap water on fire.

Lock the Gate Alliance acting president Drew Hutton said it was time for Australian State governments to follow the examples of South Africa and several US states and ban fracking. The French National Assembly is also debating a ban.

"Coal seam gas, that is the predominant form of gas mining in Australia, is the same as shale gas in that it often requires extensive fracking to release the methane gas and many of these wells are located close to people's homes," Mr Hutton said.

"If the companies cannot exploit this resource profitably without fracking, then governments should be looking closely at whether the industry should even be approved."

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