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ohio’s fracking problems a wake-up call for minister shabangu’s task team
Submitted by incoming on Fri, 2012-02-10 12:20
While the South African government decides whether or not to let fracking loose in SA, the state of Ohio in the US is trying to escape the effects of the technology. “Ohio has become the dumping ground for contaminated brine. We didn’t prepare adequately for the potential for earthquakes and other environmental problems”; – this was the view of state Representative Armond Budish, the House Democratic leader in Columbus, at a forum in the state capital, Columbus on January 26.
Ohio, labelled, ‘Pennsylvania’s (PA) Sponge’, absorbed 368.3 million gallons [of toxic frackwater] during last year’s first three quarters, according to Natural Resources Department records. That’s more than in any year since 1987, records show. Nearly 99% of all fracking wastewater from PA Marcellus shale operators sent to disposal wells in the first six months of 2011, went to Ohio.
According to local environmental lobby, Treasure Karoo Action Group, this information highlights just one of the many material issues that must be debated and scientifically settled in South Africa before the country should even consider shale gas mining here. “Royal Dutch Shell and other applicants for fracking licences in SA have continually failed to clarify how they would deal with this waste disposal problem in SA” said TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal. “They insist that when they are issued a licence to explore [frack] in SA, they will deal with these questions in the Environmental Impact Assessment. But our concern is that if a company with the power of Shell gets a hold in SA, no one will be able to stop them - even if their activity is environmentally unsafe and polluting,“ he said.
Deal added that even in PA, where their waste treatment facilities are more numerous and better equipped, they are forced to ship the poisonous and radioactive fluid to another state and pointed out that “In SA, many of our municipalities are challenged just to deal with ordinary sewage. The negative implications of this aspect of fracking, alone, are critical for SA and this illustrates our concern about the focus of Minister Shanbangu’s fracking task team. “ We repeat our call for full disclosure of the task team’s activities and a national strategic assessment and debate on fracking.”