Powerful testimony: Beetaloo region communities and cattle station owners tell Fracking Inquiry ‘fracking will risk land and livelihoods’

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                                                        11 AUGUST 2017

Powerful testimony: Beetaloo region communities and cattle station owners tell Fracking Inquiry ‘fracking will risk land and livelihoods’

Powerful testimony was presented at yesterday’s conclusion of the NT Fracking Inquiry from Traditional Owners and cattle stations, highlighting the high risk to surface water, local community health and traditional songlines if fracking caused water pollution in the Beetaloo region.

Justice Pepper said that the presentation details were very powerful and would make it into the Inquiry’s Final Report.

Eleanor Dixon, a Mudburra custodian from Marlinja community explained to the Panel, “We know the country and the way water travels through better than anyone. We showed the Panel images from our homeland in the desert which turns into an island during the Wet, surrounding us for many months.”

“The risk of flooding and fracking contaminants spreading through our country is huge. We fish, we hunt, we live off the land and the water. If it gets contaminated with chemicals or gas we will have no choice but to leave our land or be poisoned. Why should our lives and our culture be put at risk so fracking companies can make a profit?”

Raymond Dixon emphasised the risk to culture from fracking, “Our songlines are in the water there, they travel through the country and give it meaning. If anything happens on the stations where they have been fracking the poison won’t stay in one place, we will all suffer during flood time.”

Mary James, an Indigenous health worker from Elliot made an impassioned plea to the Panel, “Our waterholes back in the massacre times were poisoned, but this time around it’s fracking chemicals that could put us at risk. We don’t need this dirty industry on our land, we want to see fracking stopped.”

Both Santos and Origin Energy told the Panel the companies would oppose any restrictions on operations during Wet season, despite the risks.

Retired Beetaloo station owner Andre Munckton gave evidence of flooding and contaminant risk to the pastoral industry.

“Anyone involved in the cattle business should be concerned about pollution spreading from fracking and possibly getting into the meat. If that happens the pastoral industry in the region would be finished. I am asking the Panel to strongly recommend a Territory-wide ban on fracking.”

“The volumes of water and the length of the Wet season is highly variable. The cost to move and treat millions of tonnes of waste water and product kept in open fracking pits would be immense. No-one has confidence the companies wouldn’t try and cut corners in our remote areas, leaving us with a huge mess and no oversight.”

Eleanor Dixon concluded “We are all neighbours in this region. All the Aboriginal language groups and even the pastoralists. We have worked together for many generations, sharing knowledge about how to work and care for the country. If anything damages the country in our region we will all suffer the same so we are working together now to stop fracking.”