News24

TKAG slams fracking task team

2011-07-27 22:15

Cape Town - The special task team appointed to investigate proposed fracking for shale gas in the Karoo basin is a "sham", anti-fracking lobby group Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) said on Wednesday.

The group was responding to a written reply to a parliamentary question by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.

Shabangu said the team was chaired by mineral resources department director general Sandile Nogxina and comprised the deputy directors general of the departments of mineral resources, science and technology, and trade and industry, as well as the CEO of the Petroleum Agency of SA (Pasa).

The team was supported by a working group of representatives from Pasa, the Council for Geoscience, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, she said.

"Public interest issues, including concerns raised by interested and affected parties during the consultation processes of the applicants shall be taken into account by the task team.

"It shall thus not be necessary to subject the outcomes to further peer review and public commentary."

'Key ministries'

The task team's recommendations would determine the termination date of the moratorium recently placed on gas exploration in the Karoo, as well as the terms upon which applications and proposed operations would be assessed, Shabangu said.

TKAG chair Jonathan Deal said in a statement on Wednesday it was clear from the reply that the task team would not be interviewing farmers or businesses or tourism bodies in the Karoo before making their decision.

"We're appalled that key ministries such as water and environment, tourism, transport, agriculture, and others are excluded from the team.

"The constitution of the team and the exclusive nature of its mandate renders any report from it worthless in the debate on fracking," he said.

TKAG was specifically concerned that complete autonomy had been awarded to the team in terms of the date on which the moratorium would be lifted, as well as the terms upon which applications and proposed operations would be assessed.

"The fact that the task team excludes every other ministry and role player in this country with the exception of departments of trade and industry, science and technology, and minerals is for TKAG a clear indicator of the decision that can be expected from the team - fracking will be given the green light," Deal said.

Even the working group comprises only representatives of Pasa, the Council for Geosciences, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Water

"This is not the way a democratic government should be behaving. One would expect the task team, which is dealing with such an important issue, to represent all interested parties."

Fracking had damaged water supplies in a number of American states, and yet there was not a member of the water affairs department on the task team.

Farmers' land would be disturbed, and yet there was no representative of any farmers. Nor were there any environmental NGOs.

"How can the Cabinet expect to find answers to their environmental concerns if the department of the environment and the department of water are not involved?

"Any report from this team which may give the go ahead to fracking will expose the minister of mineral resources to international ridicule and pave the way for a legal opposition from concerned South Africans," Deal said.

Comments
  • DW - 2011-07-27 15:17

    Want to bet that a few million will be made on kickbacks by those pushing this through? They are clearly not interested in the reality of the situation. All that matters is how much money can be made - no-one has answered the critical question yet as to where the water is going to come from for the test wells. Millions and millions of liters of FRESH water (apparently sea water will not work - affects the chemicals in the mix) need to be pumped into the ground for each test well. Never mind the damage to the ground water in the Karoo which could be poisoned. And they wont know this until it actually happens - too late then. But they will have their multi millions in the bank so they wont care, will they?

      Yetypu - 2011-07-28 00:07

      DW, sea water will work. The problem with sea water fro Karoo frac'ing is not the water, it is the logistics. "could" is a weasel-word - there would be no groundwater contamination if sufficient standards are maintained. I realise SA is going thro' a perceived democracy deficit, but to attribute an as yet unknown decision of a presidential task team to kickbacks is not right. Nor are Jonathon Deal & the TKAG to be considered as fair & unbiased in this matter.

      DW - 2011-07-28 09:03

      Yetypu, until they include key ministries such as water and environment, tourism, transport, agriculture, and others excluded from the team, I will not see this matter as fair or unbiased. There is a reason for not including them, and I would like to bet it is because they KNOW how much these ministries will oppose the whole deal. If our government cannot be transparent from the beginning, I am afraid that experience tells me that there is an underlying reason - I am not sure if you are South African, but corruption, kickbacks and fraud is the order of the day from every echelon of government. It doesnt help to point a finger at Jonathon Deal and the TKAG as being biased if both sides are not represented in the task team. It just shows a bias in the other direction. Shell has a reputation worldwide for doing things which are in their best interest financially and ignoring or subverting the environmental issues. Sorry, but with both a government and a business enterprise having shocking reputations in this regard, it is going to be very difficult to convince us that there is not a whole lot of conniving behind the scenes to force this through, whatever the evidence shows to the contrary.

      Yetypu - 2011-07-28 16:32

      DW, re yours of 08:03 – this appears to be a technology biased team set up to address a technology issue {the claims of contamination}. I agree that evidence should be taken from water and environment, tourism, transport, agriculture, and other relevant stake-holders, but task teams should be built to address the core question, which here is completing claims about the safety of the technology. In this regard, you might be interested that the UK has just decided the technology is safe – please Google “UK Govt refuses to ban shale gas 'fracking’ - Flaming tapwater risks 'hypothetical and unproven'”. You cannot claim, in this instance, that the govt is not transparent – the make up of the teams is no secret. I was born in the Karoo, but have also worked in Nigeria & Angola {& elsewhere}, so I am aware of corruption, but strongly feel that to cry wolf on corruption in SA is yield to it, rather than to fight against it. It is necessary to point out that JD & his revenue generator TKAG are very biased. In contrast, Shell is a global major owned by pension funds and takes its environmental concerns extremely seriously, particularly when subject to scrutiny. Shell is answerable to its owners & regulators, not least EU anti-corruption legislation; in contrast, to whom are JD & TKAG answerable?

  • Chris - 2011-07-27 15:31

    Fok

  • pswart40 - 2011-07-28 07:06

    We must really fight this, in our fight to save the planet, these capitalist do not give a rats a*#e about the karoo or the planet. Fracking destroys water resources and in the karoo where there is already shortages, it wil be disastress. Use those areas for solar panels or windpower dammit.

      Yetypu - 2011-07-28 14:41

      There is no credible proof that frac'ing destroys water resources, while solar & windpower both consume rare earth resources far away & defile the local environment.

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