The High Cost of Fracking In The Kimberley
Today’s question troubling Kimberley’s community and every conscious citizen of Australia – will Buru Energy be allowed to start fracking in the Canning Basin? And, while the WA Parliament is “conducting an inquiry into the controversial gas fracking industry” and acknowledges the strong opposition formed by the inhabitants of the area, citizens, environmental protection groups and traditional owners are doing all they can to stop the initiation of the process.
So far, the people’s efforts have had a positive effect and Buru Energy has been in a trading halt for over a month now. However, the area is in danger and it may be only a matter of weeks for Buru to find an excuse and start fracking. But at what cost? Are the investors, shareholders, directors, managers and employees of Buru Energy ready to face the consequences of Hydralic Fracturing and live themselves after destroying Kimberley’s environment?
What are the costs for Kimberley’s environment?
The simple and short answers is – very high. The idea of fracking is basically injecting high pressure fluid in the ground in order to fracture the shale rocks containing the precious natural gas. The fluid contains more than 600 chemicals, many of which are well-known carcinogens and toxins. Some of the ingredients include lead, uranium, mercury, ethylene clycol, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde. So, tremendous quantity of this fluid are poured into the ground at a depth of 10,000 ft. According to specialists, an active gas well can be fracked up to 18 times and each time you need 8 million gallons of water and 4 thousand gallons of chemicals.
So far so good. However, at the end of the process, only between 30 and 50% of these 8M gallons water + 4K gallons chemicals are recovered. The rest remains in the ground and can’t be removed or neutralised. During the process, methane gas and various toxins are leached and become the cause of contamination. The nearby ground waters are deeply affected. Researchers have found that the methane concentrations in the drinking water near fractured wells is 17 times higher than the usual. This water, of course, goes to the nearby living areas and is used by the people there for drinking, watering, etc. This means that the inhabitants of the area drink the water, their pets and farm animals drink it, their crops, flowers and trees drink it…
According to the scientists, ingesting the contaminating water leads to sensory, respiratory and neurological problems. However, it does not end there. The fluid recovered from the ground is left in the open to evaporate and you can imagine what goes into the atmosphere and poisons the air we breathe, the rains and the ozone layer. The acidic rains resulting from the evaporation destroys skin, cars, houses, fences, statues…the list is endless. All this destroys the natural habitat of all the inhabitants of the area – people, birds, fish, cattle, domestic and wild animals and plants.
What is the cost for the company and the shareholders?
If the Buru Energy could rely on the perfect scenario, they would make a lot of money from Kimberley. They will take out the gas and leave the area destroyed, then move to another area. Kimberley’s community, however, ruined this for them. Some traditional owners have raised their voices, requiring moratorium on the hydraulic fracturing in Kimberley. Others have adopted a more hands-on approach, blocking Buru’s access to the well. Meanwhile, environmentalists from the area and the country are raising awareness and promise that anyone who tries fracking their area will suffer financially and will have to face the discontentment of the community as well as severe reputational damage. Buru have already felt the effect of these actions as their share price marks a record drop. They already found themselves in need of sacking 30% of their workforce and are in a trading halt.
How to help
If you want to help Kimberley remain a place where people don’t grow a second head after drinking a glass of water, speak, post, share, like and participate. Inform yourself about the process and the dangers, try to spread the word about the consequences of fracking, sign a petition and participate actively in the future of Australia. It is not the first time Kimberley opposes a process that is not supposed to happen – help them do it again!