Residents in the South West will have the chance to hear the facts about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other forms of unconventional gas at a community forum in Margaret River.
The forum is being hosted by Transition Margaret River and Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSPI), and will take place on June 2.
Piers Verstegen, Director of Conservation Council of WA and member of the CUSPI Advisory Board will be speaking at the event, and said there were a number of myths that he would address in his presentation.
“One of the most common myths that we hear from the gas industry is that fracking can co-exist safely with other industries such as farming and tourism,” he said.
“The South West region is renowned for its food and wine, tourism, clean air and natural environment. If gas fracking were to occur in the region it would pollute and industrialise large areas and destroy many of the values that make the Southwest such a special place.
“In a typical fracking gasfield, hundreds or even thousands of wells are required – each drilled through groundwater aquifers to access deep gas-bearing rocks. Each frack well can use, and pollute 20 million litres of water.
“With each well that is drilled and fracked, there is a very real threat of contamination entering the groundwater that our farms and communities rely on. Once the groundwater is polluted, the damage is done and it’s farmers and communities who will pay the price for that.
“We are also very concerned that farmers have no rights of veto to prevent unwanted gas exploration or fracking on their land. A Parliamentary Inquiry recently recommended stronger rights for farmers but the State Government has rejected these calls.
Mr Verstegen said while there were no immediate plans to undertake fracking around Margaret River, the area is being explored with renewed interest as new gas extraction methods, such as fracking, have become available.
“South West communities should be sceptical of claims that fracking will not happen in the region,” he said.
“We have seen similar claims being made by gas companies elsewhere as they try to get a foot in the door and establish themselves in communities.
“The State Government and fracking companies have refused to rule out fracking in the South West and this alone should be reason for concern.
“Exploration licenses have already been issued over many groundwater aquifers, including the Yarragadee south aquifer, which supplies water to the South West. These leases cover significant areas around Bunbury and Margaret River.
“Another myth that will be addressed is that our regulations are adequate to protect the environment and groundwater.
“One of our biggest concerns is that gas fracking in WA is exempt from the normal regulations that apply to other polluting industries, and no Environmental Impact Assessment has been undertaken before the exploration leases have been issued.
The forum will be held at 5pm June 2 at the Curtin University Margaret River campus.
Media contact: Rebecca Boteler – 0424 569 179