The State Government announcement that fracking will be permitted in the Mid-West and Gascoyne regions has raised serious concerns on the potential contamination of water sources used for horticulture, pastoral industry, tourism and fishing industry.
Reacting to the announcement, Chairman of the Gascoyne Food Council, Michael Nixon, said “We are extremely disappointed and concerned that the State Government is going to allow fracking in regions where there is established horticulture and food production industries.”
Calling for a ban on fracking where water is designated for human consumption or farming, Mr Nixon said “The only reasonable outcome is to ban fracking in any region where there is a recognised aquifer to ensure there is no chance of a detrimental effect on precious water sources.”
The Gascoyne River is the longest river in Western Australia at 865 kilometres long, with three tributaries and a catchment of over 76 thousand square kilometres. When the river is in flood any contamination would be impossible to contain.
The River also has a complex network of underground aquifers that are not mapped or fully understood. The State Government report claims that the risk of contamination is low, however the impact of any contamination of these aquifers is extremely high and therefore unacceptable to communities reliant on the subterranean water.
“Contamination of the underground aquifers would be irreversible” said Mr Nixon “We are concerned about food security and ensuring we maintain water security for future generations.”
Mr Nixon also questioned the scientific rationale for banning fracking in the South West but allowing it to occur in the North adding “Where is the science that recommends fracking in our region but bans it in the South West? Due to the complex nature of our aquifers the risks and impacts of fracking in the North may be even higher.”
Mr Nixon referred to the incredible environment Gascoyne Food is grown, fished and farmed in, adding “We produce food in one of the most pristine environments on the planet, we have two marine world heritage areas on our doorstep and a high value fishing industry operating off shore. The impact of fracking in our region would be far reaching and devastating. Contamination of the water would result in irreparable damage and the Gascoyne Community and those of the Mid-West that are so reliant on subterranean waters are not willing to accept these risks.”