MineWatch, 9th December, 2016
We still remember vividly not long ago, Western Australia (WA) farmers told ABC News about their Fracking fears in WA 'food basket' Dandaragan, because their freehold farms which they have spent 40 years to build up will be at risk if frackers get on them.
"If the climate keeps drying as it has been, the only way we will be able to grow any crops is by irrigation. And if we foul the aquifers with these chemicals and the gas, then that option won't be open to us." - WA farmer Harry Minty.
Nobody wants to use contaminated groundwater. It is horrifying for anyone having to ventilate their home anytime they take a shower to prevent the build-up of methane in their home and facing the serious risk of losing the sense of smell and taste.
Who and how can assure Mr. Minty and many other WA farmers and residents that the environment and themselves and families are protected?
Before that, let’s take a look at what is fracking and why is it controversial. Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.
Potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site. The oil and energy industry suggests pollution incidents are the results of bad practice, rather than an inherently risky technique.
In WA, the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) promises to strive to make WA the first choice for responsible development. DMP, in close cooperation with the Office of Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the departments of Water, Environment Regulation, Health, and other agencies, ensures responsible practices and energy companies’ compliance with the legislation of petroleum activities including Hydraulic fracturing for onshore natural gas from shale and tight rocks. Environmental impact assessment and the controls from the fracking license issued by EPA are two of the primary controls to prevent, detect and correct bad fracking practices which negatively affect the environment.
A whistleblower says that the WA mine giant, Minecorp, has been using BTEX (benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene) chemicals for more than two years. It’s confirmed that the Minecorp management is fully aware of such practice, but has no intention to change or disclose it to MDP or EPA.
The whistleblower says it is not surprising that the authorities do not interfere Minecorp’s illegal usage of BTEX chemicals or its poor wastewater storage and disposal processes and facilities. Minecorp has misled relevant authorities from submitting incorrect information to avoid any environmental impact assessment by EPA.
Our environment is important to all of us. Unfortunately, powerful and manipulative commercial organisations often make profits at the cost of environment and the health of the local community. Do we want to threaten places in WA into the future with polluting practice by mine giant like Minecorp? Do we want a legacy of toxic chemicals in our home?
All residents will be eagerly awaiting the responses and actions from EPA and the executives of Minecorp.
MineWatch encourages whistleblowers, and others with access to information they believe should be revealed for the public good, to contact us (see contact details below). You can remain anonymous if you so wish. Please note, we cannot guarantee to respond directly to anything you send here.
Investigative Journalist at MineWatch