Council seeks armed forces support in war against fracking


Sir – The Katherine Town Council has sought Defence Department assistance with its efforts to have the NT Government declare a moratorium on fracking covering the entire Tindal aquifer region.
The council is concerned that the horizontal fracturing (fracking) process may contaminate the Tindal aquifer.
Based on experience gained elsewhere in Australia and in many overseas countries where moratoriums have been implemented, the council’s concern is quite justified.
Katherine draws all of its water from the Katherine River and the Tindal aquifer. Bore-water from the aquifer is used to supplement the town’s water supply.
In the drier months of the year, water from the aquifer keeps the river flowing.
Tindal RAAF Base draws all of its water from Katherine’s water supply.  If the town’s water is contaminated, so also will be Tindal’s.
The Defence Department has spent the best part of a billion dollars at Tindal in recent years and appears to be intent on spending much more in future on a base that is of major importance for Australia’s northern defences.
It is absolutely essential for any military installation in a remote part of the country to have a clean water supply.
For the Defence Department to spend billions of dollars on a base while knowing that the only water in the region may be contaminated would be similar to building submarines for the Navy, tanks for the Army or aircraft for the RAAF if it is known beforehand that there is a major flaw in their design.
While it is generally recognised that the NT Government will ignore  local residents  and the council’s requests  for a moratorium, it is hopeful that the government will bend over backwards to appease a Commonwealth Government department,  a department that contributes very heavily to the economy of the NT.
Bruce Francais


  1. Mr Francais is spot on with his comment “NT Government will ignore local residents”.
    Not only locals but All residents of the NT for more than a year. Despite making public comment available it has only been a lip service and concludes as always with “Everyone has had a say and now this is what is going to happen.
    The Katherine Town Council is definitely to be commended for appealing to the defence department to assist in the effort to protect the life blood of Katherine.
    I for one will be echoing the council’s call for a moratorium.

  2. Katherine and its residents have also to worry about more earth collapsing (sinkholes) under their feet and/or the Base’s airfields.
    The process of hydraulic fracturing causes miniature earthquakes.
    By definition, fracking is breaking rock within the earth, and these breaks create vibrations. The scale of these breaks is generally very small and not sufficient to cause perceptible “earthquakes”.
    In general terms a sinkhole is any sudden subsidence of the earth. In more technical terms, a true “sinkhole” is a subsidence or soil collapse caused by a combination of water eroding supporting soils, rock, or limestone, and an underlying geological structure or material that is particularly vulnerable to dissolving in water.
    Katherine is situated above the Tindal Limestone Formation, which consists of soluble, karstic rock featuring an abundance of naturally occurring sinkholes as a result of the dissolving of the underlying soluble limestone.
    There are more than 280 sinkholes identified in the Katherine region (Analysis by Karp, 2002) shows that sinkhole distribution is generally random across the Tindal Limestone area and new sinkholes will continue to develop overtime.
    If channeled drainage or any changes made to local surface drainage, excessive ground water pumping and leaking water lines can all cause sinkholes one can only imagine what fracking will do.

  3. At least the Katherine Town Council listened to their rate payers and are going another step further. Well done Katherine Town council.


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