Wanneroo mum calls for vigilance over fracking concerns


Children Elaria, Leo, Imani, Emmerson and Delia with parents Poppy Atheis,Tegan Benfell and Paula and Murray Hay.                   d464461
Children Elaria, Leo, Imani, Emmerson and Delia with parents Poppy Atheis,Tegan Benfell and Paula and Murray Hay.                d464461

WANNEROO mother Tegan Benfell is encouraging people to find out more about fracking at community meetings in Wanneroo and Neerabup this month.

A gas exploration permit has been given to Macallum Group and Southern Sky Energy for areas within the City of Swan and shires of Gingin and Chittering, though the Department of Mines and Petroleum prevented access to some parts of the Swan Valley.

Mrs Benfell is concerned the permits could lead to companies being allowed to drill through the Yarragadee north and south aquifers, which supply household drinking water to the metropolitan area. She said she was worried about contamination of the aquifers from fracking, as she and her daughter Imani (10) live with multiple chemical sensitivity and are sensitive to pollutants.

“We all need clean air and clean water – something that’s necessary for everyone and even more so for people with health problems like us – but there’s been no community consultation and precious little protection,” she said.

Mrs Benfell also believed the large amount of water that fracking used was detrimental to WA.

The meetings are being held by anti-fracking group Frack Free Future and co-ordinator Jules Kirby echoed Mrs Benfell’s concerns.

“We all get our water from the same aquifers that are at risk here – if fracking companies contaminate those, we’ll all pay the price,” he said.

Fracking is banned in Victoria, while Tasmania and the Northern Territory have issued moratoriums.

Macallum Group spokesman Rance Dorrington said they were still in the very early stages of exploration in the area and the primary targets of further exploration were those that had potential for oil or gas recovery by conventional means.

In a 2015 public notice regarding the permit, he said if hydrocarbons were successfully identified “there should be no requirement for any process requiring the use of hydraulic fracturing to expedite the flow of oil or gas”.

He said they would continue to advise potentially affected parties of their intentions before ground-based exploration works were undertaken, and listen and respond to any feedback.

Southern Sky Energy could not be reached for comment.

Meetings will be held on February 13 from 6pm to 7.30pm at Wanneroo Library and Cultural Centre, February 16 from 10am to 11.30am at Wanneroo Recreation Centre and February 16 from 6.30pm to 8pm at Ocean View Tavern in Neerabup.