Solid Energy's unconsented fracking
Wed, 25 Jul 2012 6:10p.m.
By Tova O’Brien
3 News can reveal that the Waikato Regional Council allowed Crown energy company Solid Energy to frack without consent during a trial operation near Huntly 2007.
The Council incorrectly told the company it didn’t need consent to use the controversial method of pumping sand, water and chemicals at high pressure underground.
Despite Solid Energy being a Crown company, in this case the Government is keeping its distance.
“Well it's a matter between the Council and Solid Energy, obviously they went ahead without a consent,” says Minister of Energy and Resources Phil Heatley.
Both Solid Energy and the council refused to appear on camera. The council's excuse was that the topic was "too complex" and Solid Energy argued that "it's not its issue".
But Green MP Gareth Hughes says that’s not good enough.
“The public should be concerned and need to know where fracking is happening around the country," says Mr Hughes. "If the councils don't even know they can't be monitoring and the public can't know either."
In documents given to 3 News the council admits: “In hindsight, we believe this fracking should've been consented”.
But the potential for it wasn't mentioned by Solid Energy, and the energy company in turn blames the council, saying"it confirmed the activity didn't require further consent".
But this afternoon the council changed its position, saying it “was aware of the potential but didn't have concerns".
“Well I think both are responsible but I also think the central Government’s dropping the ball,” says Mr Hughes.
“We would expect them to have consent, we'd expect the Council to make it clear that they would have a consent and we'd expect them to do the activity properly and legally,” says Mr Heatly.
And it is not the first time Solid Energy has made mistakes.
Previously 3 News revealed historic fracking in Southland – when, after denying fracking was used in the region, it turned out that Solid Energy had a 10 percent stake in a company which used the method.
The Government says monitoring Crown companies is important, but says it isn't necessary for all consents.
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6/08/2012 2:55:57 a.m.
None of this is a problem, Solid has well informed the locals. Sensationalism by bored reporters. With out investment there are no working classes and no toilets.
30/07/2012 11:44:30 a.m.
Be more tramnsparent with mining operations! Stop keeping the public in the dark. It only makes you politicians all look biased and suspicious. If you are going to pretend a government is running a country and not corporations - If you are going to pretend environmental regulations are for the public's best interests instead of using them as corporate offsets. Stop allowing corporations to rape the freedoms and innovations of the private sector/ small businesses in this country. Corporate bribes and ETS abuses are leading to economic and environmental justifications that use the working classes as their toilet.
26/07/2012 7:44:19 p.m.
Its still happening now at a farmsite on Rotongaro Rd in Huntly at Solid Energy's Underground Coal Gasification pilot plant. They set fire to the coalseam several hundred metrs underground by pumping compressed air in and igniting the coal seam, then suck the combustion gases out through another wellhead, which is predominantly CO and Methane, for use in commercial operations such as Huntly powerstation. Burning the coal seam as they do leaves a massive cavity deep underground. The earth above collapses into the void causing the ground to fracture. There are several watertables above the seam (4 or 5 at different levels, separated by hard strata)and as the earth collapses into the void and the ground fractures, the watertables drain into each other, disrupting the natural flows of these aquafers. This is happening as we speak. Do you thinkm it is acceptable? I dont!
26/07/2012 4:49:49 a.m.
This is shocking! Time to stop fracking in NZ.
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