Will Water Act give fracking companies OK to pollute water?


p22100-Naomi-HoganLETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Mining and fracking companies could be given an exemption allowing them to pollute water across entire exploration permit areas in the NT if draft changes to the Water Act are not rewritten to remove significant loopholes.
This proposed exemption is a breach of trust by the Gunner Government.
There is no logical reason why companies can avoid penalties for spills of chemicals, or mine and fracking waste water contaminating our waterways. It’s unacceptable.
Fracking companies use poisonous chemicals in order to extract shale oil and gas. Territory communities will be put at risk if this industry gets a free pass on basic laws to prevent water pollution.
Section 16 of the Water Act presently makes it an offence to allow waste to come into contact with water or to pollute it in a way that causes serious environmental harm without authorisation. Water means “water flowing or contained in a waterway”, “ground water” and “tidal water.”
However, the Water Act, as drafted for comment, includes this section:
Section 16 does not apply to waste that comes into contact with water, or water that is polluted, if:–
(a) the contact or pollution occurs in the course of carrying out a mining activity or petroleum activity; and
(b) the waste or polluted water is confined within the mining site or petroleum site on which the activity is being carried out.
“We are calling on the Economic Committee reviewing this Bill to remove this exemption and ensure there is no broad right for miners and fracking companies to pollute Territory water.
The Lock the Gate Alliance will also submit that the draft updates to the Water Act are still missing critical new reforms recommended in the Fracking Inquiry.
The reform process for new water laws is piecemeal and shambolic. These proposed reforms are yet to provide a clear water protection framework as recommended by the NT Fracking Inquiry.
Naomi Hogan (pictured)
Lock the Gate Alliance


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