Plea for Canty fracking moratorium

VICKI ANDERSON
Last updated 08:21 25/01/2012

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The Christchurch City Council has called on the Government for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in Canterbury.

In a letter this month to Minister of Energy and Resources Phil Heatley, Mayor Bob Parker said the council had resolved to call for a moratorium at a meeting on December 8, after widespread community concerns.

In the Canterbury Basin L&M Energy has applied for two permits for gas extraction at onshore sites in South Canterbury and the Canterbury Plains, with one permit approved. Offshore in the Canterbury Basin, Texas oil giant Anadarko, a part-owner of the well at the centre of the environmentally disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is a 50/50 partner with Origin Energy in two permits to do deepwater drilling searching for oil and gas here. It plans to start drilling in October.

"This resolution follows an earlier decision by the Spreydon-Heathcote Community Board to request the council to call for a moratorium.

"Both the board and the council are aware of community concerns about this issue, including the issues of the practice leading to contamination of drinking water, discharge of pollutants into the environment and possible linkages with increase in seismic activity," Parker wrote.

He added: "The council respectfully requests that the Government consider a moratorium until an independent inquiry is carried out, and would appreciate being kept informed of its decision on the matter."

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial mining practice in which gas and oil are obtained by drilling into open rock deep in the Earth and then forcing large amounts of water, sand and a cocktail of chemicals at high pressure down into the shale.

A blast fractures the shale bed around the well. That lets natural gas and oil deposits flow freely to the surface, but can also allow the chemicals to enter the water table.

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