Lyn Charlton, Dannevirke
THE unconventional practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking’’, is a highly contentious and emotive issue which, if we allow it, will divide our families, friends and communities.
Members of my family will benefit financially from the oil exploration beginning in earnest on the East Coast.
I will do everything in my power to avoid judging and blaming them for their actions. I believe harmony, respect and community are too important to sacrifice on the altar of a “cause’’. However, neither will I be silent!
One of my favourite quotations is: “Criticism without investigation is ignorance’’ . . . . So please do not call me a Luddite until you are armed with the facts and have evaluated the risks to your family, your health and your country.
Personally, I am convinced from my research to date that fracking should be stopped until we have the legislation, information, transparency and full, long-term company and council liability in place to repair and compensate for any environmental damage.
I believe the safety of our people, livestock, soil, groundwater, rivers and air — past, present and future — are of paramount importance. I am also loath to see the rural areas of New Zealand turned into industrial sites.
The European Union has proposed a moratorium while investigations are carried out. Moratoria are in place in New South Wales and New York State. The National Toxics Network of Australia has called on state and federal governments to introduce a moratorium on all drilling and fracking chemicals until they have been examined independently.
I fervently hope New Zealand will follow their example and apply the brakes! In the meantime, I respectfully suggest the following actions if you are approached by an oil company:
1. Ask for all the information available to you as land “owner”, not just the few pages initially offered.
2. Refuse to sign a “non-disclosure contract’’.
3. Ask for a full list and the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) on all the chemicals and additives used in the drilling mud and fracking fluid.
4. Ask to see their legally-binding contractual liability in the event of water, soil, animal, wildlife and environmental contamination — not just their company “nicespeak”.
5. Ask to see the applicable testing requirements of the council and regional consent forms.
6. Request, in writing, the projected total number of wells if the initial drilling is successful.
7. Research the history of the oil company involved; records of safety, transparency and commitment to environmental repair.
8. I also believe the honourable action is to meet with all farmers in your area before you commit to an oil company contract, especially if groundwater from your farm eventually ends up in the drains, streams and wells of your neighbours.
If you are a non-farmer, offered work on wages or contract . . . you drink the water, breathe the air and are part of your local community. I am asking you to do the same due diligence as your rural neighbours. Please consider the financial rewards versus the health and environmental risks of a technology which, I believe, is being used before vital research and legislation is in place to protect our farms, our families and our future.