The call for a “frack free” Kimberley is winning, at least for now. Greens hailed ALCOA Australia in dumping its $40 million deal with Buru Energy to supply up to 500 petajoules of gas, a deal struck eight years ago.
This came at a time when Buru was celebrating the official opening of its Ungani oil field, 100km east of Broome in the Canning Basin, on Wednesday. Ungani is the first oil development in the Kimberley in almost 30 years.
Earlier this year, Buru welcomed the support of the Broome Shire Council for the company’s Canning Basin gas exploration program after a motion to declare the Broome Shire “frack free” was defeated at the Council meeting.
But the tide is turning against fracking. Green groups declared the “death of fracking” in the Western Australian (WA) region and urged Buru to drop its plan to frack for shale gas.
The Wilderness Society WA said Thursday Buru must drop its plans to frack for shale gas in the Kimberley after Alcoa announced it had scrapped its deal to help fund the program. Wilderness Society WA Campaign Manager Jenita Enevoldsen said the Kimberley is Australia’s most pristine landscape and one of the last great wildernesses left on the planet.
“It is no place to experiment with the dangerous fracking techniques. Water is too important to risk in the Kimberley. Alcoa’s withdrawal signals the death of fracking in the Kimberley,” Enevoldsen said.
An overwhelming number of Western Australians in the Kimberley and Pilbara region have opposed fracking, a Department of Mines and Petroleum survey showed. In 2014, the Yawuru Traditional Owners voted 96 per cent against fracking on their ancestral lands.
Wilderness Society WA said fracking risks poisoning people, groundwater, rivers, soils, farmland and wildlife. “We are playing Russian roulette with our groundwater, which is a critical for life and agriculture in the driest inhabited continent on Earth,” Enevoldsen continued.
We have seen what has happened in the US and we don’t want that to happen here. Gas companies are draining our groundwater supplies and pumping toxic fracking and drilling fluids back. The fracking industry is in its early days in Australia but already there have been many problems – in the Pilliga Forest in New South Wales and in Australia’s biggest coal seam gas field, Tara, in inland Queensland.
The Western Australian Government needs to see what has happened elsewhere and ban fracking here. Forty thousand people have already signed a petition calling for a moratorium on fracking in WA.