We have just been to the Open House meeting in Cape Town held by Golder and Shell. Representatives from both Golder and Shell were there, and we asked various questions.
We feel the meeting went well, with firm opposition from land owners, water experts, geologists, farmers, parliamentarians (certain parties), writers, etc.
There was even a Carte Blanche camera crew present, filming the meeting.
The main point of the meeting was that Golder is now only doing an EMP (120 day process). It is our understanding that this EMP is a pre-approval for an exploration EIA, and if the EMP is approved, then Shell will be allowed to proceed with an EIA, which is a 12-18 month process. Any time a question at the meeting was asked regarding specifics of the Fracking process (what chemicals will be used, where will the water come from, how will the wastewater be disposed of, etc…), the Golder employees deferred the questions, saying that those things would only be studied in the EIA phase.
Our main concern/point is this:
Golder stated repeatedly that the EMP is an Environmental Management Programme. Golder claim that in the EMP they will define exactly how Shell intends to “manage” the Fracking process.
However, they also stated repeatedly that they have not done any studies on the impact of Fracking, do not yet know which chemicals will be used, from where the water will be sourced, how or where the wastewater will be disposed, or what measures will be put in place to prevent and treat pollution, contamination, and toxic waste.
There is a contradiction here. If Golder/Shell have not yet studied any of these topics, how can they possibly purport at the EMP phase that they already know how Shell will “manage” all of these issues and problems.
The other thing that we are very concerned about is Golder/Shell’s seeming refusal to acknowledge documented incidents that have occurred in the US, regarding ground water contamination, well blow-outs, methane leakage, etc.. as a direct result of Fracking. We directly asked them to include studies of these cases in their EMP.
Once the draft of the EMP report has been released, in March, according to them, everyone must review it carefully, and see if all the points that have been raised in meetings and in questions submitted to Golder are addressed in the EMP, before any EIA’s take place.
Once again, we cannot stress how important it is to register as an interested/affected party with Golder, BEFORE 18 FEB 2011, and to actually send them all your concerns and questions so that they can be on RECORD, please do this.
Another issue that came to the fore, was that there are no regulations in place in regards to Hydraulic Fracturing in South Africa at the moment. This issue will also have to be dealt with, as without regulation, there is no way to control or regulate the process or the industry.