Weight added to fracking moratorium calls

Last updated 11:44 25/07/2012

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The Dunedin City Council has added its weight to calls for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

Earlier this year the Greens party proposed a moratorium until the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, completed an investigation into the practice.

A moratorium would result in a freeze on new fracking in New Zealand until the investigation was completed later this year.

Yesterday the DCC joined four regional and district councils covering Hawkes Bay, Waimakariri, Kaikoura and Selwyn as well as the Christchurch City Council who have already backed calls for a moratorium.

Currently fracking occurs in Taranaki and Waikato and involves drilling deep wells and injecting high-pressure quantities of water, fine sediment  and chemicals into rock, causing them to crack open and release hydrocarbons.

Environmentalists claim there is potential for underground water aquifers to be contaminated.

The practice has been banned in countries including France, Bulgaria and South Africa.

The Taranaki Regional Council, who regulates fracking, investigated the process earlier this year and found no contamination at the Ngaere Cheal sites.

At the time Green MP Gareth Hughes said the Taranaki Regional Council's testing was not comprehensive enough.

"They didn't even test for fracking chemicals, they only tested for hydrocarbons," he said.

Mr Hughes said it was important to determine whether fracking was safe before it became more common.

"The Government's permitted 4 million hectares where fracking could occur and there's another 3 million on the cards at the moment so we could see a huge spread," he said.

On Saturday Climate Justice Taranaki will hold protest bus tour to all the fracking sites in the region.

In a release the group said the Government's short-sighted plans to 'save' our economy from bankruptcy by plundering future generations' natural resources is helping push the planet to the brink of unstoppable climate chaos.

"We have also suffered four oil spills, well and pipe blowouts, polluted rivers, possible contamination from fracking, and several deaths from accidents," it added.

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