New guidelines for fracking welcomed

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014

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A new set of guidelines for fracking and landfarming is already being followed by oil operators in Taranaki, according to industry watchdogs.

The guidelines, released by the Ministry for the Environment, lay down best practice instructions for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and landfarming, the process of spreading oil drilling waste across marginal land.

Taranaki Regional Council director of environmental quality Gary Bedford said the guidelines were consistent with current practice in Taranaki. Despite being compiled by TRC's director of resource management Fred McLay, the guidelines were not an example of self-regulation, Bedford said.

"The Ministry for Environment took our work and put it through extensive international peer review.

"It did its own independent work to validate what we were offering."

Green Party candidate Sarah Roberts said the draft guidelines had supported disposal of toxic fracking fluid to land, but this had been changed in the final copy to say fracking fluid should be sent to industrial waste management facilities, recycled, or disposed via deep-well injection.

Roberts said she was was concerned about landfarming of any toxic waste from oil and gas operations.

"It doesn't support our dairying industry or clean green image.

"We won't get away with it for much longer."

Bedford said the word ‘toxic' had been bandied about so often in regard to fracking and landfarming it had lost all meaning.

He said many aspects of the oil and gas extraction industry involved substances that could cause adverse effects which is why it is highly regulated.

"Yes, we are regulating which says there is a risk, but we believe we have been shown to have very robust environmental protection measures in place."

There has been at least one instance of fracking fluid spread on a Taranaki farm, a practice no longer supported.

Bedford said all fracking fluid in Taranaki is now disposed of by deep-well injection.

Petroleum Exploration & Production Association New Zealand (Pepanz) chief executive David Robinson said he welcomed the government's guidelines.

"They give a very good overview, not just for local governments but anybody interested in finding out how many regulations oil companies have to comply with."

Robinson said safety was the highest priority in the industry, both for workers and the industry.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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