Anne Daw, fracking, South East

Anne Daw, an agricultural advocate for the South East.
Anne Daw, an agricultural advocate for the South East.

Anne Daw, agricultural advocate who spearheads the campaign for the protection of land in the SE from mining and petroleum activities, has had a busy 12 months again.

She has represented South Australia several times, interstate.

A couple of her highlights were having a private and lengthy meeting with Erin Brokovich, and also representing South Australia at a meeting in Melbourne with Michel Forst, United Nations Special Rapporteur, on the situation of human rights defenders.

Anne is disappointed with the recommendation by the Natural Resources Committee around social licence, given that Anne has given much scientific evidence to the inquiry on why any form of Petroleum or Mining activities should not be allowed in the SE.

Anne also visited Professor Ingraffea in the United States. He has been a huge support for Anne, and gave evidence via skype at the inquiry.

At the beginning of this inquiry, the NRC saw its responsibility as recommending whether to frack or not to frack but by the end, although members have their views on the subject, the committee felt that ultimate responsibility rests not with the committee but with industry, government and community, to decide in concert.

Anne is very concerned, understanding the Mining and Resources Minister, Tom Koutsantonis, who appears to have a passion for gas in the Otway Basin, that he will simply ignore the recommendation.

The Labor Government also committed 24 million towards a program to incentivize companies to extract more gas and supply it to the local market in 2016.

The recommendation of the Natural Resources Committee was as follows.

“The natural gas industry does not currently have social licence to operate in the South East, and in the committee’s opinion unconventional gas exploration and development should not proceed without it.

This is not to say unconventional gas exploration and development should never occur in the region, but that in the committee’s view, obtaining social licence is a necessary precondition to such development occurring.”

Anne stands firmly by her quote used in a United Nations document ‘A Guide to Rights-Based Advocacy – Fracking, International Human Rights and Fracking’.

“Valid community concerns exist in the SE in regard to social, environmental, economic, water security, sustainable food bowl, local, national and international export markets and tourism.

People are concerned with demographic changes, associated strain on community services, loss of lifestyle as they now know it, and insecurity regarding their futures.

Impacts on landscape, triggering of earthquakes, seawater intrusion and the fact that the SE is on limestone with a number of caves, fault lines sinkholes and subsidence all present a huge problem which cannot be solved.

Limestone subsidence and sinkhole formation are hastened by unconventional gas activities, both through stimulation of earthquakes, and the weight of heavy machinery and ponds.”

Anne cites in her submission, past problems from conventional gas in the South East.

Victoria has a moratorium on conventional gas and Anne believes that South Australia should follow suit.

As a member of the Round Table for Oil and Gas, Anne has inspected the Onshore Petroleum Centre of Excellence (fracking school).

One of the staff admitted that hydrogen sulfide and anaerobic bacteria cause corrosion, which is their biggest problem.

This is regardless of how many layers of casings and cement there are.

Anne also attends lectures at the National Groundwater Research and Training Centre.

There is uncertainty with accuracy of Groundwater modeling.

This is because of actual future climate, allocation and demand.

Consistency with the same rain amount each year is no longer the case.

The SE had drought for a long spell. Heavy rains across the SE occurred in July 2016. The Mt Gambier area had 90 mm rain in 2 days.

As the result, large sinkholes appeared in areas of the SE.

In 1991 high rainfall caused flooding across the Katnook gas plant floor, 25 mm high.

There has been little or no modeling for 1 in 100 year floods.

If gas production was allowed, this could lead to overflowing of waste-water ponds.

Disposal of waste-water for production, itself is a problem and has not been discussed.

The Jolly 1 and Bungaloo untreated waste water ponds were ‘irrigated’ onto 3 properties south of Penola.

The plans recommended that lactating cows and calves were kept off the area for 2 weeks.

As well as contaminants being present, the sodium adsorbtion rate was 238.

Pasture only endures between 18 and 46.

According to an expert, ‘watering down’ this water will not make it safe.

Worse than that, there were over 300 substances that Beach Energy Ltd. omitted to test for, many, if they are present, highly toxic. Earthquakes are another problem, because of all the faults in the South East.

Professor Bill Fisher, past president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, who Anne has met, stated that no drilling should occur near any fault.

“If drilling near faults, and there is a high enough amplitude on vertical fracture patterns, this can cause leakage up into the aquifers… hydraulic fracturing can potentially give rise to induced seismicity if it hits a pre-existing fault”

Multi-stage slick water horizontal invasive high volume high pressure fracture stimulation has only been used since 2002 and multiwall pads since 2007.

Wells can be fracked up to 60 times.

The economics don’t stack up. Because of the National Vendor Declaration requirements, farmers may be unable to sell stock.

The SE clean and green image would be at risk.

According to a Sydney Insurance Company who investigated, – no insurance is available if there are gas fields in the vicinity.

Farmers and landowners are forced to self insure.

According to the Energy White Paper 2012, 76% of green house gas emissions come from Australia’s energy sector.

According to a South Australian Government document, as the result of climate change, sea levels will continue to rise at the rate of 5.1mm per year.

Costs of loss of infrastructure by 2100 is expected to be $46 billion.

A Federal Government document estimates there will be $226 billion loss for commercial and residential assets around Australia by 2100.

The Insurance council of Australia has identified some risks including storm surge, landslip and sea level rise are not generally covered by insurance products.

Land values of properties are not insured.

These costs do not take into account rising temperatures buckling infrastructure – bridges, buildings, railways, etc.

There have been a number of incidents related to the Petroleum industry, in South Australia.

These include oil leaks, pipeline leaks, breaches in pond walls, uncontrolled and unintended gas releases, fires on drilling rigs, and pollution of groundwater 22 metres below the ground from hydrocarbons.

Anne believes that risking the South East potable water ‘is not on’. We do not need any added uncertainties.