Fracking sites no 'toxic hell holes'

Last updated 05:00 26/02/2013
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FRACKING: A hot topic of debate in NZ.

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After watching the American documentary Gasland,  Derek Seymour  says the message is simple: Fracking should be banned in New Zealand because it is ruining our environment.

I have worked in the mining and minerals industry for the last four years. Despite what people think, mining and minerals companies consider their employees' health and safety and that of the communities they operate in, of paramount importance. Without skilled employees they would not have a business, and they are well aware of how important it is to work closely with communities in order to earn their right to operate there. That's just common sense.

Mr Seymour, however, is asking the industry to be accountable for another country's mining history and regulations, which resulted in the sort of issues that are raised in the doco Gasland. That's like holding New Zealand education providers accountable for failures in the American education system. It's not a fair comparison.

Fracking used in New Zealand bears little resemblance to how the technology is portrayed in Gasland. We have strict laws that ensure fracking is done properly and carefully by managing well integrity, and any discharges from the operation to the surface or air.

Mr Seymour asks what the Government is doing about banning fracking, when this documentary shows the effects are devastating turning "pristine farmland into toxic hell holes, forcing farmers to flee because their cattle's hair falls out." As far as I'm aware, none of this has happened anywhere in New Zealand where fracking has occurred.

The sort of chemicals portrayed in the US documentary are also not used in New Zealand fracking operations. In Huntly, New Zealand, you can see CSG well sites from public roads situated on lush, productive farmland with very healthy cattle grazing right up to the well fence-line, not at all the 'toxic hell holes' Mr Seymour describes.

As for what the Government is doing, that's a question for the Government. There's plenty going on.

Sarona Iosefa is Communications Manager for Straterra Inc., the industry group representing New Zealand's mineral sector and mining.

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