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 …
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.