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US EPA Reveals Unconventional Gas Industry Can Contaminate Water Supplies

Media Release - 14 December 2016

The US Environmental Protection Agency has overnight reversed its guidance and acknowledged unconventional gas mining can and has contaminated drinking water, a revelation set to create waves in the local industry[1], according to the Lock the Gate Alliance.

The New York Times describes the US EPA report as “the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to date on the effects of fracking on water supply”.

It has been released just one month after compilation of research into the health effects of fracking and unconventional gas revealed a growing body of evidence they pose a major health risk and regulation has been ineffectual in preventing harm[2].

Swan Valley vigneron Alf Edgecombe said this was further evidence that the State Government should halt gas exploration in the region.

“We are concerned that there is a gas exploration permit over our vineyards, across to Herne Hill and up to Bullsbrook and beyond,” he said.

“A Department of Mines directive saying no exploration activity will occur in the Swan Valley area is not enough of an assurance, it leaves us with long-term uncertainty.

“In NSW, residents have been misled with regards to intentions from gas corporations regarding whether they were targeting conventional or unconventional gas. 

“We rely on underground water here, so any exploration in our Mid West food bowl puts that area as well as the Swan Valley at risk.

“We call on the Minister to call a moratorium on all unconventional gas exploration in the region, until there is independent scientific evidence proving this type of exploration safe.

Lock the Gate Swan-Mid West Coordinator Simone van Hattem said the report was a huge warning for the region that the unconventional gas industry has not been proven to be safe.

“Western Australia shouldn’t be experimenting with risky unconventional gas before being 100% confident that there will be no impacts to our precious water supplies, our land and the health of our communities,” she said.

“The US EPA admits that they weren’t able to assess the full impacts on water resources because of data gaps and uncertainties, and that comprehensive information on unconventional gas activities had not been collected.  We’re taking similar gambles with communities in the Mid West by pushing this industry ahead without baseline data.

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