Traditional owners from NT’s Beetaloo Basin, the site of fracking by Santos, Origin and others, fear flooding from Cyclone Tiffany will result in pollution from wastewater ponds overflowing into sensitive streams, rivers and unsafe drinking water.
Members of the Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, who live in the cyclone impacted area of the Beetaloo Basin, are preparing to monitor wastewater ponds on their Country where they can get access.
Native title holder, Djingili elder and Nurrdalinji Deputy Chairman Samuel Janama Sandy said “We’re on red alert for our country and our water. Here and overseas there’s been plenty of times where flooding has seen toxic wastewater pollute Country. We’re holding our breath that we don’t get contamination here.
“Water is life and we’ve a responsibility to protect it. This is a big reason why we don’t want gas mining. We can’t afford to have fracking destroy our water, animal life or dreaming,” Mr Sandy said.
Traditional owner and Nurrdalinji Chair Johnny Wilson who lives in Lightning Ridge nearby to three fracking exploration sites said, “This year Santos and Origin have done fracking drilling right up until the start of the wet. They’re storing wastewater, with all its dangerous chemicals, in temporary ponds and we know big rains can see them overflow”.
“Who’s watching what happens during this cyclone with its big rains? It shouldn’t be up to us to monitor for pollution, but we’ve no faith that either the big gas companies or the government have an eye out or will admit when things go wrong.
“Cattle are the backbone of our economy and produce food for all Territorians and we’re also concerned about neighbouring pastoralists and risks to their cattle from water poisoning.
“The Northern Territory Fracking Inquiry identified the real possibility of overtopping of storage ponds during the wet season. There’s no evidence that since the 2018 report that gas companies have made wastewater storage safer, even as climate change creates more extreme weather events like Cyclone Tiffany,” Mr Wilson said.Photos of Nurrdalinji Aboriginal Corporation here.
The Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation includes native title holders from the Amungee Mungee, Beetaloo, Hayfield, Kalala, Newcastle Waters - Murranji, Nutwood Downs, Shenandoah, Tandyidgee, Tanumbirini, Daly Waters Township, Ucharonidge native title determinations.
The Beetaloo sub-basin is located around 500 kilometres south-east of Darwin. It embraces Aboriginal land, pastoral leases (which co-exist with Native Title rights and interests), horticultural enterprises, cattle stations and remote Aboriginal communities. A number of companies are currently undertaking fracked gas drilling in the region, with most of the NT covered by exploration permits.