12/12/2017 - 15:50

APPEA welcomes fracking reports

12/12/2017 - 15:50

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Most chemicals used in hydraulic fracking are not harmful, while precautions can be taken to prevent problems from those substances which are, according to a CSIRO report released today.

APPEA welcomes fracking reports
Buru Energy had undertaken a fracking operation in the Kimberley.

Most chemicals used in hydraulic fracking are not harmful, while precautions can be taken to prevent problems from those substances which are, according to a CSIRO report released today.

The 'National assessment of chemicals associated with coal seam gas extraction' overview found that more than half of the 113 chemicals used in the process would be unlikely to cause harm to public health, even if they were spilled or leaked in large volumes undetected.

Examples of those chemicals include guar gum, used in ice cream and pastry fillings, and limestone.

For those that might be likely to cause harm, precautions could be put in place, the report said.

In terms of environmental impact, 15 of the chemicals used could cause harm during transport if proper precautions were not in place, while four would be damaging if they are present in wastewater when it is reused.

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association chief executive Malcolm Roberts said it was the latest independent research showing properly regulated fracking was safe.

“The assessment found the most significant potential risk to public health and the environment was exposure to chemicals after a large-scale transport spill, a risk facing any industry that uses chemicals,” he said.

“The chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing in the coal seam gas industry account for less than one hundredth of 1 per cent of chemicals transported by road in Australia.

“Extensive regulation of heavy vehicle movements and chemical storage already minimises the risks identified.

“Australia’s natural gas industry provided data to the assessment and will consider its findings.

“However, it should be noted that some 80 per cent of the 40,000 chemicals approved for use across all Australian industries are yet to be assessed by (the CSIRO) in the same way.”

The CSIRO report comes the same day as the release of the first draft of the Northern Territory’s fracking inquiry.

Inquiry chair Rachel Pepper said risk was inherent in all development, and that onshore shale gas production was no exception.

But risks could be suitably mitigated and reduced to acceptable levels, she said.

About 120 recommendations had been made in the draft report to reduce risk.

Earlier this year, the Western Australian state government announced a further scientific inquiry into fracking.

In the interim, there is a moratorium on fracking in WA, while the use of the drilling technique in the South West and Perth area has been banned.

The state government also ended a previous state agreement with Buru Energy for fracking in the Kimberley.

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