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Origin Energy plan to start fracking in Aboriginal communities across the beautiful NT - despite Traditional Owners saying they don't want fracking on their country.

Origin's fracking plans threaten to release as much greenhouse gas as 50 new coal fired power plants. But the time for digging and burning fossil fuels; coal, gas and oil is over. We have everything we need to supercharge the transition to renewable energy for everyone now. All we need is for Origin to listen and act.

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The United States is riddled with fracking oil fields, so we know how devastating the impacts can be:

  • Millions of litres of crude oil are spilled from pipelines every year in the United States, destroying land and polluting water.1
  • Wastewater from fracking operations, containing high levels of ammonium, selenium, lead and other toxic contaminants as well as high salts, is frequently spilled from unconventional oil drill sites poisoning streams and lakes.2
  • Globally, over 300 million tonnes of CO2 are added to the atmosphere every year when waste gas is burnt at oil fracking wells.3

In the context of the NT, where a huge drought has 90% of the land mass relying on the same shared underground water sources, the downstream impacts of this would be huge.


This project is a threat to our safe climate future.
Origin's exploration well has the potential to lead to hundreds of Origin's shale gas wells in full production phase, and to the further development of Northern Territory's unconventional gas industry, which NT government sources have said could mean over 6000 gas wells4. The gas industries' peak body, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, has said there are over 200 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Northern Territory, which is the equivalent to 50 power stations operating for thirty years5. We simply cannot afford such a climate disaster.

The fracking processes uses dangerous chemicals that represent a threat to human health, the natural environment and water sources.
Origin have provided a list of chemicals that will be stored and used on the site of their exploration well. Many of these chemicals do not have available health data6. These chemicals must be adequately health tested before being used in the fracking processes.

The health and environmental risks of the dangerous chemicals used in the fracking processes are exacerbated by the use of open storage tanks.
Origin is proposing using open tanks to store liquids that flow back after the fracking process, which will be millions of litres. This is in spite of the fact that the Northern Territory fracking inquiry recommended that all polluted water from the fracking process be stored in closed tanks to minimise risks to human life and the natural environment7.

There are serious concerns as to whether Traditional Owners have been able to provide free, prior and informed consent to the fracking process.
The Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory stated that, 'Aboriginal people from regional communities who made submissions to the Panel almost universally expressed deep concern about, and strong opposition to, the development of any onshore shale gas industry on their country'8. This included communities in the Beetaloo basin where this exploration well will be located. A report from the Jumbunna Institute at UTS9, has questioned whether communities have been provided adequate information about the fracking processes, leading to the conclusion that 'based on a review of publicly available information, the report finds that most – if not all – exploration permits issued in the Northern Territory for unconventional gas were issued in the absence of free, prior and informed consent'. In this context it is not appropriate to proceed with the current exploration permit without further consultation.

References
[1] 'Top 20 onshore U.S. oil and gas spills since 2010', USA Today, 17 November 2017.
[2] 'Contamination in North Dakota linked to fracking spills', Duke University, 27 April 2016.
[3] 'Zero Routine Flaring by 2030', World Bank, undated.
[4] 'Onshore shale gas in Australia and the Northern Territory', The Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory, March 2018.
[5] 'NT gas compared to coal-fired power plants', The Australia Institute, undated.
[6] 'Object to Origin's frack plans', Lock the Gate, undated.
[7] Recommendation 7.12, The Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory, March 2018.
[8] 'Aboriginal people and their culture', The Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory, March 2018.
[9] Hydraulic Fracturing and Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the NT, Jumbunna Institute UTS, undated.

Traditional Owners should have the final say about what happens to their land. That's why they have been leading this fight to protect country for years from oil and gas companies and their fracking plans.

A government-backed independent inquiry that stated "overwhelmingly, Aboriginal communities are opposed" to fracking on their land. And yet, Origin claim that they haven't received objections from Native Title holders.

They even removed Traditional Owners from a meeting where they presented a petition against fracking, signed by 200 Native Title holders.

For Aboriginal people, country means everything — people, kinship, land, community, culture, language, lore, stories and so much more. Country is the past, present and future together.

Solutions to the climate crisis will require leadership from those impacted most. Who better to learn from than the custodians of the oldest living culture in the world?

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