Local mums concerned about fracking threat to health

A local family is warning about the dangers posed to health by fracking as the industry prepares to roll-out operations across the state, including close to the metro area. 

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Fracking is a new method of extracting underground gas using chemicals at high pressure to fracture underground rock. In America, its use has resulted in negative outcomes for water tables, public health and environment.

So far, it’s been banned in Victoria, while Tasmania and the Northern Territory have instated moratoriums. New York State and Maryland, Scotland, France, Germany and other national governments have also enacted bans and moratoria.

The state government has issued exploration licences across a vast area from Margaret River to north of Broome. Companies such as AWE are already fracking in the Mid-West with plans to expand to large-scale operations despite near unanimous rejection by local communities. 

Parts of the Swan Valley are also earmarked for exploration.

Mrs Tegan Benfell, a Wanneroo resident of 9 years, and her ten year old daughter Imani, both live with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and are extremely sensitive to pollutants.

She is concerned about the fracking industry drilling through the Yarragadee north and south aquifers, which supply household drinking water to the entire Perth metro region. 

“No formal environmental assessment has been undertaken by the Environmental Protection Authority, which is extremely concerning to us,” Mrs Benfell said.

“We all need clean air and clean water – something that’s necessary for everyone and even more so for people with health problems like us – but there’s been no community consultation and precious little protection.”

Mrs Benfell called for northern suburbs residents to join her at a series of community meetings to be held next week where the process of fracking and how to have a say will be discussed.

“We all get our water from the same aquifers that are at risk here - if fracking companies contaminate those, we’ll all pay the price. The US Environmental Protection Authority has recently shown that water sources there have been permanently poisoned by fracking – do we really want that happening here?”

Mrs Benfell also said the use of water was a monumental waste. "They are talking about using a thousand litres on just one frack, when each well may be fracked several times and we could be looking at tens of thousands or more fracked wells across WA. Meanwhile the rest of the community is living under water restrictions. How are they allowed to get away with that?”

Frack Free Future Campaigner Jules Kirby said the unconventional gas and fracking was a dangerous and accident-prone industry that trampled on the rights of local people and that risks permanently contaminating our drinking water.

“We already have more gas than we need in WA, which is why companies that risk polluting our Mid West food bowl and water tables do so at almost no gain for the people of this state,” he said.

 Only 4 of the 353 chemicals used in fracking have been assessed by Australia’s national chemical regulator. US Researchers have shown that 75 percent of these may affect skin, eyes and other sensory organs, and the respiratory and gastro-intestinal systems while 25 percent pose a risk of cancer and mutation.