The hunt for coal seam gas is dangerous to the health of all Australians.
AS A long-time advocate for the environment, I am greatly concerned about the continued health of Australia and its people. That is why I am horrified to learn of the extensive plans for coal seam gas and shale gas exploration here. Until recently, I was unaware of the hidden dangers lurking in this so-called clean natural gas exploration.
There are serious risks to human health and the environment associated with coal seam gas (CSG) mining and hydraulic fracturing. ”Fracking” is the practice of using high-pressure pumps to inject a mixture of sand, water and a mystery cocktail of toxic chemicals into gas wells to release unconventional gas.
So begins an Australian op-ed by “Olivia Newton-John, AO, OBE, is a singer, actress and in 1990 became the United Nation’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Environment.”
And here you thought she was just the star of Grease who sang that song about exercise — it was about exercise, wasn’t it? — you saw in concert some three decades ago…. Oh, wait, that wasn’t you, that was me! But I digress.
More from Newton-John :
In fact, according to the National Toxics Network, an Australian lobby group, only two of the 23 most commonly used chemicals used in this fracking process have even been assessed by the national regulator.
In America, some of the chemicals used in these operations are suspected to be cancer-causing agents. There have been reports of serious health and environmental damage from these mining practices.
The process has been banned in France, is subject to a moratorium in South Africa and has become a battleground in the US….
Just a few weeks ago, the legislature in New Jersey led the way, voting overwhelmingly to ban fracking.
In Australia, the New South Wales government last week put in place a fracking moratorium. Nationally, a Senate inquiry is under way and is hearing evidence from farmers and lobby groups in affected areas. This is becoming a hugely controversial issue around the world, and not only in the US. France has banned this type of exploration. South Africa has imposed a moratorium. Britain is under pressure to do the same.
Right now we still have the opportunity to avoid the disastrous environmental mistakes made by other countries.
Here is a frightening fact. Did you know that if a gas company thinks there is gas under your land, you do not have any legal right to stop them entering your land to explore it and, if you try to stop them, they can take you to court? And, when they finally leave your land, which could be 20 years from now, your property may be a toxic wasteland.
Are you aware that gas leases in Queensland and New South Wales already cover an area 10 times the size of Tasmania?
We have the largest pure water source in the world. In fact, the Great Artesian Basin covers a vast area of our land mass (almost one quarter in total), and Australia is one of the few countries where it is safe to drink the tap water at home. How can we even consider putting our fresh water supply at risk?
After talking with my friends and family, I realise there is a lack of information and very few answers to many important questions. The gas companies’ plans for exploration on private property throughout Australia are largely unknown by property owners. It was a surprise to me.
The public’s awareness of what is happening, and the potential consequences to our health and our land, shows that it’s time for some serious inquiries.
On behalf of my family and friends and my fellow Australians, I would like answers to the following questions:
■ What studies have been done to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that coal seam gas mining does not damage and pollute the water table?
■ What chemicals are being used in CSG exploration and mining?
■ Why are mining companies exempt from revealing the chemicals used in fracking?
■ If no extensive studies on the effects of these chemicals have been conducted, why then are they already in use?
■ Has the government considered that we may be sacrificing a sustainable source of food and water for a short-term financial gain?
■ In our land of abundant sunshine surrounded by ocean, have we thoroughly explored alternative non-toxic energy sources?
In addition, I am so alarmed to hear that dredging is taking place in our precious Great Barrier Reef, at Curtis Island, and around the Queensland port of Gladstone, which could have a direct negative impact on the marine ecology of the reef. (For more information, please visit LockTheGate.org.au.) Until these questions are answered, I respectfully request a national moratorium on the coal seam gas exploration and mining in Australia until all health, social and environmental risks have been fully explored. We must have answers and regulations for what could be a very serious issue to the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
Like all of us, I love this country, its people, its rugged beauty, its rainforests, its vastness and unique wildlife. My dream is that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the land that we all know and love. And it is possible for ordinary Australians to make a difference.
We should be demanding our politicians call a halt to coal seam mining and fracking until we know what harm these chemicals will do to our water, our soil, the air we breathe, our animals, our trees, our rivers, and our food chain for generations to come.