Lucindale hears about unconventional gas drilling

MORE than 30 people attended the recent showing of the film "Fractured Country: An Unconventional Invasion" at the Lucindale Hall.

Heather Heggie introduced several speakers, who discussed the impact of unconventional gas drilling. 

Huck Shepherd spoke about water and the environment and the complexity of the underground water system. 

Dr Catherine Pye, a general practitioner, compiled a powerpoint presentation on health, which was presented by Heather Gibbons. 

The presentation explained how the current method of fracking, which is horizontal, using water at a high volume and high pressure with chemicals and sand, is a new technology, which has only been used since 2002; with multi-well pads and cluster drilling being used since 2007. 

Over 75 tonnes of chemicals may be used in a fracking operation on one well, and if you multiply this by the number of wells in a region this means there are many truckloads of chemicals that could come into the Limestone Coast, being stored on site and injected underground. 

Dr Pye is also concerned that over 20-85 per cent of the chemicals injected underground are not recovered and remain underground. She wondered what harm this would do underground and would this cause unknown problems in the future?

A US paper by Dr Colborn published in 2011 looked at the chemicals used in gas extraction. 

They compiled a list of 944 products containing a total of 632 chemicals, 75 per cent of these could affect the skin, eyes, lung and gut. 

Nearly half could affect the brain, nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems and kidneys. Over a third could affect the endocrine (hormonal) system and a quarter could lead to cancer.

Limestone Coast Protection Alliance committee member Heather Gibbons shows off a "Lock The Gate" sign.

Limestone Coast Protection Alliance committee member Heather Gibbons shows off a "Lock The Gate" sign.

Only four of the 50-60 chemicals thought to be used in Australia in fracking fluids have been assessed for safety by the Australian National Regulator, and these have not been assessed with respect to fracking. 

Dr Senior also updated the group on the actions of the Limestone Coast Hospital Health Advisory Committees, who have written to the health minister to request his help in ensuring that a Health Impact Assessment is performed before a Petroleum Retention Licence can be issued (once this is issued gas production and fracking can occur).

Kalangadoo sheep and cattle producer David Smith has led the local action group in his area. 

He also spoke about his personal research in finding out what is happening overseas. He has been in contact with many people greatly affected by the shale gas industry in the USA. 

Ken Grundy spoke about the need for Limestone Coast residents to unite to protect water, air and soil from possible contamination. 

He urged people to educate themselves, talk to neighbours and friends, keep up to date with information and events by becoming a member of the Limestone Coast Protection Alliance (phone 0459 808 437), and check out the national organisation here.

He also suggested they join the State-wide rally being organised in Adelaide on August 2. 

People in the Limestone Coast need to act now to stop further exploration of unconventional gas and mining before any damage is done to our region.