Last week, a couple of well-informed citizens, Pauline Elliott and David Appleton, made a brief presentation, at their own initiative, to the Regional Council on the subject of fracking. They were supported from a Maori perspective by Dawn Bennett on behalf of the Pukepuke Tangiora Estate (Ocean Beach).

Fracking is a process oil companies use to push gas from deep seams of shale shattered by high pressure doses of water (in very high volumes) and chemicals (mostly toxic). The concern, based on growing evidence around the world, is that the chemical slurry that is used can migrate underground, potentially contaminating aquifers and other groundwater.

If you know nothing about fracking (it’s done in Taranaki), you’re as well informed as our Councillors appeared to be. [Picture deer staring into headlights.] Councillors were promised a report on the matter.

Why should you and they be concerned?

Because Tag Oil plans exploratory drilling, using the fracking process, in our neighborhood — the Gisborne and Dannevirke regions (the latter in a location that apparently reaches into HBRC territory). Given our region’s dependence on its aquifer waters, one would expect our Regional Council to be particularly diligent in investigating these plans and addressing any perceived impacts that might endanger our water supplies.

Of course this raises the issue of where does the appropriate expertise to evaluate any potential risks lie. HBRC isn’t exactly crawling with experts in oil and gas extraction!

If you want to learn more about fracking, check out these links …

Oil industry’s fracking spin exploits ignorance of citizens

What the frack is Govt thinking?

Too much fiction about fracking (for an industry view)

HB Today coverage — according to which: “Tag’s website says it plans to fully penetrate the underlying Waipawa Black Shale and Whangai Formation fractured oil-shale source-rocks at an anticipated depth of 1600m in the Boar Hill structure.”

And if you really want to ‘drill down’ (and have broadband), here’s an interactive presentation from the NY Times.

If there were ever a case where a precautionary approach is needed, fracking around groundwater sources would seem a most obvious one.

Tom Belford

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9 Comments

  1. Have been meeting with Pauline and am hosting a full screening of Gaslands at Reading, 7pm Monday 14th November. $5 per ticket. Call my office if you would like to come along.

  2. You people may as well give it up. Your not going to stop them fracking in New Zealand. Too late! They have already started and no matter how much you fight, you'll never win. WE will end up being in the same predictiments as the U.S. I hate to say it but it's the truth and it makes me sad but I see it coming.

  3. I have just read Visions Hawke's Bay in Issue 04 and was surprised that there was only one mention of fracking which I believe is the greatest threat to Hawke's Bay and the East Coast. The Government has issued an exploration permit for one million acres of the East Coast to be fracked by TAG oil and Apache Corporation. Apart from the fact that fracking should not be undertaken in seismically active locations because the process itself can cause earthquakes, the potential risk of contamination to our aquifer should be of concern to us all. Many of the chemicals used in the process are known carcinogens and to have traces of these chemicals enter our water supply would be horrendous. The Government is committed to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and hopes to have 90% of our energy produced from renewable sources so you would expect that any permits issued would be for bio energy, marine energy, geothermal, hydro,solar or wind. We need to have public debate so that everyone has an understanding of the issue.

  4. I don't think anyone can stop them from fracking. I do see it coming. No matter how many meetings or discussions or how much one spends to go to great lengths to fight this, it isn't going to happen.

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