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Radio activity comtamination concern surfaces around fracking plan
03 March 2011
Guy Rogers

KAROO anti-frackers are calling for the authorities to take note of the latest findings in America that fracking could be contaminating drinking water supplies with radio activity. The findings stem from an investigation by the New York Times and were reported in that newspaper on Friday. The findings include that waste water produced by fracking wells often absorbs radio activity from naturally occurring minerals underground like uranium.

This radio active waste water is then discharged to sewage plants that do not have the capacity to remove this contamination, and is then pumped out into waterways from where drinking water is harvested. States like Pennsylvania have been particularly badly affected, the newspaper said.

Fracking is hydraulic fracturing, a gas mining technique in which water mixed with corrosive chemicals is pumped down to great depths below the surface to fracture shale and release gas bound  in fissures in the rock.

Treasure the Karoo Action Group chairman Jonathan Deal said yesterday the radio active issue had particular relevance in the Karoo.

“When our government was touting its pebble bed modular reactor two years ago, the stated strategy was that the uranium feedstock necessary would come from the Karoo.  So we know uranium is down there, and this makes the findings in the US about radio activity contaminating waste water very important.”

Coupled with the known presence of uranium, the dearth of capacity in South Africa to manage waste and to enforce action against polluters, especially in rural areas, means the issue is of high concern, he said.

The shock radio activity news from the US follows hard on the heels of controversial statements made last week by SA Energy Minister Dipuo Peter at a parliamentary press briefing.

The minister is the overall ajudicator of the applications which are being prepared by Shell, Bundu and Falcon. The applications have either been presented already or are set to be presented to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa, and if the agency considers them to be acceptable, then it passes them on to the minister.

Peters told media the gas had to be used.

“Because if we don't use that gas for whatever purposes that we would want to use it for, it will be released into the atmosphere, and it will also create another particular challenge.’”

Richard Worthington, te climate change programmme manager for SA office of WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature)  said the minister’s argument was flawed.

“It is completely incorrect. Shale gas methane is safeguarded in deep geological formations thousands of metres underground below impermeable layers of rock.

‘There is no way it can escape without human intervention.”

Peters stated further that there is a case for mining shale gas because, as an energy source, it is cleaner than coal, and government has an obligation to do something about the greenhouse gas emissions being generated by its existing coal-fired energy sector.

But Worthington said early studies showed, in fact, “there is no climate change advantage at all to using shale gas for electricity generation.”

“The fugitive emissions of methane from fracking, as well as the massive fossil-fuel burning infrastructure needed to support it may have the opposite effect.

“The studies indicate that the lifecycle of shale gas mining and burning would generate as much greenhouse gas as petroleum. It may even be as bad as coal.”

Deal said the bottom line was that there are many more sustainable ways to create energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs than by fracking for methane.

“Fracking has the potential to cost far more jobs than it creates. It could contaminate crucial water and food resources. We worry about who is advising the minister, because she is being made to look ignorant and ill-informed about the issues.”

 

 



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Your comments

Guy Taylor [11 March 2011 17:14]
FRACKING UP THE KAROO Quebec banned fracking yesterday the 9th March 2011. The Quebec government recently decided to halt shale gas drilling in the province until further research is done on a controversial method of extracting gas. Fracturing technology known as hydro fracking involves shattering deep, underground layers of shale with chemicals & water. Nobody can predict where the chemicals end up. Why dont we ban it in the Karoo? Has Canada found out something that we in South Africa dont know? What we do know is that to frack the shale, Shell will poar down each of the drill holes between 80 to 300 tons of toxic chemicals and about 1.8 million gallons of water and each hole can be fraked about 18 times. At the top end that is 18 x 300 tons of chemicals or approx 5400 tons of the poisons down into the ground. What is in the cocktail of 596 chemicals used for fracking? I know its benzene and toluene but does it include arsenic ? or any other poison? Shell wont tell us so that means they have something to hide. Why are cows dying in Pennsylvania? What did Shell do in Pennsylvania that wont happen in the Karoo? Did they also promise safe fracking? There is no such thing. so they lied. Im coming for answers to your public/ environmental management study feedback session in Port Elizabeth on the 24th March at Humerail Hall at 5pm. PS: Why such a small hall for a public meeting? Cant wait and bring your list of poison chemicals with you and the percentage mix as we need to know just how much our Karoo will be fracked up. Guy Taylor
- Report Abuse

GVS [03 March 2011 16:33]
What is comtamination. A new word to add to the dictionary.
- Report Abuse

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Your Views

reystoke 2 March 2012 4:40 pm

I don't get it! Whenever I read about wind energy, I get served-up "warm fuzzies" and "jam tomorrow" stories about wind farms being the best things since slice bread, and the saviour of humanity. Some...

Showahed 2 March 2012 2:48 pm

What does the picture of Malenema reminds you of?...

Showahed 2 March 2012 2:47 pm

Same circus, same clowns... not worthwhile news anyway....

Ruffstuff786 2 March 2012 8:30 am

Give this man Derrick Hannekom a BELLS....

thirsty 1 March 2012 11:19 am

What a great day, today I drink Champagne !!!!!!!...

BrandGat 1 March 2012 6:27 am

Great news for the country bad boy Malema aka 'JuJu' has been given his marching orders,that`s one obstacle out the way....

sarunds 29 February 2012 4:56 pm

I guess a nuclear power station or coal fired power station would be preferable, just as long as its 'Not In My Back Yard' NIMBY! How tragic that we are trying to stop green energy just because it wi...

BrandGat 29 February 2012 7:03 am

Good work by Nomusa Mnguni at The refuse department NMMU clearing our Refuse overlooked by the truck on Monday. Give that man a Bells!...

BrandGat 27 February 2012 12:29 pm

WALMER SHACKS BURNING! Why is the ANC not doing anything for these people who stoically vote for them each election only to be let down again and again.The housing fiasco is getting very circus like!...

White Settler 25 February 2012 8:35 am

You are only guilty(corrupt) if you have been caught and exposed and sentenced. IF the people who are policing this exposing and sentencing are also corrupt then no one is corrupt. We therefor do not ...