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Feb 9, 2021: Black Mountain Kimberley frack plan to undergo assessment despite promised laws not yet in place

Broome based conservation group Environs Kimberley has condemned the McGowan Government for paving the way for the EPA assessment of a plan by a Texan company to frack 20 gaswells, despite promised safeguards not yet being in place.

Yesterday, the state’s Environmental Protection Authority announced Bennett Resources’ (a subsidiary of Black Mountain) fracking project would be assessed as a Public Environment Review - meaning it will receive the highest level of assessment possible in WA.

Several thousand submissions we sent to the EPA calling for the project to be rejected.

EK Director Martin Pritchard said the high level of assessment was cold comfort because the promised McGowan Government Implementation Plan - which would establish land access laws among other community safeguards - for the industry was not yet in place.

Mr Pritchard also said the Kimberley was the wrong place for fracking, and should have remained off limits to the industry when the moratorium was lifted in 2018.

“We are concerned that the proposal is being assessed at all as fracking is a totally inappropriate industry for the Kimberley,” he said.

“The EPA itself has said that there is a risk of chemical pollution, a risk to water tables from the vast amounts of water needed and a risk of spilling flowback water which has already been found to be contaminated with radioactive material in the same area in the past.

“It is also disturbing that this 20 well fracking proposal in the Fitzroy River catchment is being assessed before the promised McGowan government Implementation Plan for the industry being put in place. 

“The Implementation Plan was lauded by Premier McGowan as a safeguard for communities that are under threat from fracking. Without this in place we continue to be under the old regulatory regime which has been found to be inadequate.

“The McGowan Government needs to ban the fracking industry from the Kimberley - it’s the only way to guarantee clean water and to ensure the multi-million dollar tourism industry is not affected by the industrialisation of the landscape.”

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