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The tide is turning – Frack Free Communities springing up

The tide is turning – Frack Free Communities springing up

12 March 2012

The public is fast awakening to just how risky and damaging fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and the discharge of fracking associated wastes is to our land, water, human and animal health. They want fracking out!

The Egmont Plains Community Board has on March 7th, unanimously declared their Ward a ‘Fracking Free Zone’ and called on other community boards to declare their wards ‘Frack Free’. They requested South Taranaki District Council to declare South Taranaki ‘Frack Free’ and to call on other Territorial/Local Authorities to declare their jurisdictions ‘Frack Free’. This followed a similar declaration by Spreydon-Heathcote Community Board under the Christchurch City Council a day earlier, and the calls by Kaikoura and Selwyn District Councils and Christchurch City Council for moratoriums on fracking in their areas.

Critically, the evidence of incompetence, conflict of interest and failure to implement the Resource Management Act (RMA) effectively and transparently is mounting. As Roberts-Morrison (Ngaere residents) pointed out at the Stratford public meeting (Feb 29), many of TRC’s monitoring reports revealed serious breaches of consents, ‘incidents’ and/or lack of water sampling, at Mangahewa-3 and Sidewinder wellsites, McKee and Kapuni Production Stations, KA8/12/15 wellsites, Cheal deep well injection and mixed/bury/cover sites at Ngaere, etc. Not only did the companies not suffer any legal consequence despite committing offences under the RMA, their environmental performance and compliance was rated as ‘high’ by TRC.

In the morning of the Stratford meeting, TRC released only part of the results from testing of water samples collected from areas “surrounding Tag Oil (NZ) Ltd’s Cheal well sites at Ngaere”, concluding that there was no contamination, without informing the public that results from three samples critical to the assessment were not released. Why? Is this a blatant and deliberate act to mislead the public, or some sort of other convenient ‘oversight’ by TRC?

“These are the very sites that bother my family greatly – the Cheal B wellsite and the tributary of the Ngaere Stream. This is where the water for our family and farm comes from.” Roberts-Morrison wrote in a letter of complaint to Ministers Phil Heatley and Nick Smith.

Notably, a new research from Cornell University revealed dozens of cases of illness, death and reproductive issues in farm animals, pets, fish and humans from six states in the USA. These conditions could be the result of exposure to gas drilling operations. In one case, a farmer had 60 cows in a pasture with a creek where fracking wastewater was allegedly dumped. Of the 60 cows exposed to the creek water, 21 died and 16 failed to produce calves the following spring.

When are our regional and central governments going to wake up and remember their primary mandate of protecting their own people – us? Climate Justice Taranaki is calling all people to demand change – change in governance that ensures transparency and accountability, change in council’s resource consent processes to allow more notified consents and real public participation, and change in policies and culture that are not hooked on oil, gas and money!




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