Concerns over fracking drill rig reinforce call for independent oversight
8 February 2013
The Greens today called for the Government to take a closer look at worker safety in unconventional gas exploration and for independent oversight of the fracking industry after a fracking company announced to the ASX that it had cancelled its contract with a major fracking rig.
Greens spokesperson for Water Hon Alison Xamon made the call as New Standard Energy terminated its contract with the Century Drilling Company over concerns about ‘safety, competency, operational performance, and reliability grounds’. Drilling with the Century-14 rig had been scheduled to continue until late-March.
The Century-14 rig is one of the only rigs in Western Australia capable of drilling deeper than 4,000m and had been brought in to Australia to drill a number of wells.
“Safety issues lie at the heart of many of the concerns over the unconventional gas industry,” said Ms Xamon. “This abrupt termination on safety grounds speaks well of AWE, but it is a concern that one of the newest rigs to Australia is already having these kinds of problems.”
“Concerns about public and worker safety in the unconventional gas industry remain largely unaddressed.
“The health impacts of the chemicals used in fracking are still largely unknown.
“Where we do understand the health risk, such as with silica dust, the lack of transparency about how levels are monitored and the amount of exposure are highly concerning.
79% of air samples collected by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Authority at fracking sites in the USA showed levels of silica dust above the permitted maximum.
“It is concerning that similar air-quality monitoring program design and results are not being made public in Western Australia.
“I call on the Minister, once again, to take a closer look at the safety risks facing workers in the unconventional gas industry and ensure that all elements of safety are being thoroughly audited.”
AWE ASX announcement – http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20130208/pdf/42cxbrh69q7rss.pdf
US OSHA silica hazard alert – http://www.osha.gov/dts/hazardalerts/hydraulic_frac_hazard_alert.html
Hon Alison Xamon MLC
Member for the East Metropolitan Region
Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051
Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931
Phone: (08) 9272 1718
Fax: (08) 9272 1719
Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services, Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering