Grapes of wrath as vineyards in Australia resist fracking

Grapes of wrath as vineyards resist fracking by Sarah Martin, January 27, 2014, The Australian
One of the nation’s most prestigious wine regions – the Coonawarra, on South Australia’s Limestone Coast – has emerged as the latest battleground in the conflict between mining interests and agriculturalists. The area’s shale gas deposits are being targeted by the mining sector, raising fears that hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” — will contaminate the region’s precious underground water reserves.

The Coonawarra Grape and Wine Association said the government should follow the lead of the NSW and Victorian governments and restrict exploration in prime agricultural areas.

President Allen Jenkins said the region’s water resource was “too precious” to be put at risk. We would like there to be a much more conservative approach,” he said. “We don’t think they should be drilling for gas and mining for gas in areas where we have precious groundwater and high value agricultural land. “It is internationally recognised as a world-class wine region and I think generally people would be appalled if the Coonawarra was to be put at risk.”

Yesterday, members of the newly formed Lock the Gate alliance, which is modelled on interstate campaign groups, rallied near Penola, 388km south east of Adelaide, to protest against drill rigs erected by Beach Energy. About 150 people attended the rally, including Pete Balnaves, vineyard manager from Balnaves of Coonawarra. He said the government should take a precautionary approach to protecting the water resource of the Otway Basin, which supported agriculture in the region. “Viticulture has been in this region as have other water-intensive industries for over 100 years and it is really concerning that due consideration doesn’t appear to be given to the existing industries,” he said. Mining Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the government would not follow the “hysterical” approach of the NSW and Victorian Liberal governments in restricting drilling activity. “We have been hydraulic fracturing and stimulating basins for release of oil and gas since the 1960s and nowhere in Australia has an aquifer been polluted by the process,” he said. “I will not be banning hydraulic fracturing of our basins … because this state’s future prosperity is reliant on oil and gas.” [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

GAS LEAK! ABC Four Corners on Coal Seam Gas (Coalbed Methane) in Australia

That’s what’s upsetting to us. They didn’t tell us the truth in the first place. … What’s going to be left? Nothing. They’ve taken everything.

Radon gas leaks in coalbed methane fields in Australia spark call for probe

Risky Business – Al Jazeera’s report on Coalseam Gas [Coalbed Methane] in Australia One day, the kids were having a bath, and they started screaming. And when Kathy pulled them out of the bath they had a ring-line at water level, everything below the water level was red, like a chemical burn.  Everything above the water was normal.  Some while later, we found out in fact that a gas well had been fracked about three and a bit kilometres away from us around that time.

Fracking blamed for methane releases

Doctors raise alarm over toxic coal seam gas leaks, Gas Industry Attacks Scientists After Research Finds Triple The Normal Levels Of Methane At Australian Gas Fields

‘Extremely high’ methane levels found near gas wells

Gas Wells Leak – Even Upside Down – in Australia 44% of gas wells leaking in the Tara Coalbed Methane field

Australian Petroleum Association: Coal seam damage to water inevitable

60 Minutes Australia – Fracking – The Coal Seam Gas Land Grab ]

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