Fracking can be managed – New Zealand

A New Zealand inquiry into fracking found that the environmental risks associated with the procedure could be effectively managed, provided best practices were enforced through regulation.

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Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright said that a nationwide moratorium on fracking was not justified. The report assessed the risks and the capacity of the country to manage and police those risks. In Wright’s interim report she said production companies needed to choose well sites carefully, prevent leaks through proper design and construction of wells, stop spills and leaks on the surface and store and dispose of waste with care.

“Any one of these four aspects, managed poorly, could lead to contaminants finding their way into groundwater,” Wright said. “The potential for aquifers to be contaminated through fracking is very real. While there is much concern about the chemicals in fracking fluid, the salty water that comes from deep underground, along with the oil and gas, is much greater in volume, and could also contaminate groundwater.”

She said government regulation and oversight was complex and fragmented and that fracking controls may be too light-handed.
Wright said that companies were being trusted too much to do the right thing when it came to protecting health and safety as well as the environment. “At this stage I cannot be confident that operational best practices are implemented and enforced in this country.” 

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