WESTERN Australian scientists and experts including hydrogeologists, geologists, public health experts, and biologists are warning of the threats fracking poses to the state, with many of them saying that there is no safe way to frack in WA, according to the Conservation Council of WA.
In a statement the conservation council said one of the world’s most recognised experts on hydraulic fracturing, Professor Anthony Ingraffea from Cornell University in New York, joined former WA Premier Professor Carmen Lawrence from the University of Western Australia, Emeritus Professor Bruce Armstrong from the University of Sydney and industry expert Mr Ian Porter from Sustainable Energy Now, for a public forum on the risks of fracking in WA.
International fracking expert Professor Ingraffea, who appeared via video link, said there was no longer any excuse for ignorance or personal opinion concerning potential impacts from shale gas extraction.
“There are over 50,000 shale gas wells drilled in the US in the last 20 years, and, as a result, there are now over 1400 peer-reviewed scientific publications on such impacts,’’ he said.
“The vast majority of these find undesirable impacts on air, water, and human health.
“I am assigning the reading of all of these publications to the independent scientific panel and requesting their judgement on them.”
Emeritus Professor Armstrong said evidence of harmful effects on health due to fracking was increasing.
“We must not commit to likely uncontrollable health impacts from increased greenhouse gas emissions and other hazards associated with fracking without full consideration of this evidence, and be prepared to apply the precautionary principle where the evidence is insufficient to establish important risks to health.”
Professor Lawrence said it was now known that the mental health of people living in the areas where unconventional gas was exploited was being compromised.
“There is a growing body of evidence that the disruption of cultural values and place attachment through the transformation and degradation of the cherished places and the natural environment contribute to poorer community mental health and wellbeing,’’ she said.
“These effects are often overlooked in project assessments when they should be front and centre of any evaluation.”
Industry expert Mr Porter said Western Australia was already awash with excess natural gas reserves available for domestic use.
“Meanwhile, modelling by Sustainable Energy Now shows that fossil fuelled power generation will be displaced on a technical and economic basis by energy from renewable sources in the near future,’’ he said.
“There is therefore no longer a strategic energy security risk in not further developing hydrocarbon resources.”
The forum was held a day after the release of a new report Western Australia’s Gas Gamble – Implications of natural gas extraction in WA by international research group Climate Analytics, which the conservation council said showed the domestic carbon footprint from all of WA’s unconventional gas resources would be three times more than what Australia’s entire energy sector could emit to comply with the Paris Agreement.
Submissions to the WA Fracking Inquiry closed on Monday, March 19.