South Africa – fracking will certainly create developmental growth and untold wealth, yet the environmental disasters from this operation cannot be ignored.
In South Africa, there is a water scarcity and fracking requires an enormous amount of water to be pumped into the well pads. Mixed with chemicals this becomes an environmental concern for the citizens of this country.
With proposed licenses for fracking operations to begin in Karoo, South Africa, there is constant concern for that area, along with the damage this action will cause. The Karoo is a semi desert region and with water restrictions already imposed. This will create a frightening risk for the farming community; and will cause additional restrictions, which will have a detrimental effect on the population.
How will this country cope with environmental disasters and pollution of their already low water reserves?
There are other options other than fracking for shale gas, and as South Africa has the potential for solar and wind channels, these options should be investigated and implemented.
Recently, a top government leader in South Africa made a statement that was considered rash, inappropriate and certainly not reflecting the facts.
“Fortunately for South Africa, we have among the best solar energy resources in the world… In addition, we have abundant shale gas resources, the commercial exploitation of which we have to investigate and pursue.” “Positive economic spin-offs would flow from, among other initiatives, the accelerated exploration of shale gas in the Karoo side by side with pursuing our economic diplomacy efforts to harness natural gas in Mozambique and Tanzania”, Motlanthe said.
The focus on the Karoo fracking operation is in no way new, and the quest for oil and gas have already started and sometimes ignored. Offshore drilling is well underway as it remains unnoticed, and is not gathering momentum at present, yet there could be a looming disaster on the horizon.
Recent studies have revealed that Methane and Ethane concentrations were much higher in water levels closer to fracking or offshore drilling operations. It was also noted that homeowners within a mile radius of drilling do experience a higher risk of contaminated water. It is now apparent that new data collected proves that fracking affects water. It is not easy to ignore these reports in a country that is so ignorant to the dangers of fracking and offshore drilling.
Companies and high powered individuals have seen this expansion as an opportunity to create employment and wealth. Not only for ordinary citizens but an accumulation of wealth for the government would perhaps expose officials to more corruption. Within South Africa, bribery and corruption levels are at an all time high. This leaves conservationist in a dilemma as to how to protect the land and ensure safety for South African citizens.
Yet the conglomerates do not look at the environment, and will argue that there is a solution to what is a slight risk. The very idea that fracking will give hope to the unemployed is the key factor for their decision to proceed with this operation. They will tell the local people it is an opportunity for wealth and raising living conditions, yet they will never tell people about the damage fracking and offshore deep sea drilling can potentially cause.
We know, and it is a proven fact that harmful environmental, social and economic consequences are the results of fracking. The vast wealth benefits are also recorded, and it is understood that the governments is not taking into account the full spectrum of sustainable development in this country.
Fracking has now been gazetted into Law as a controlled activity, which will require a license to operate. The Water and Environmental Affairs Minister said that water resources would be considered together with proof that this exercise will not harm the natural environment, when granting licenses. So is there some hope after all?
Environmental damage caused by fracking operations is widely known and well documented. The campaigner for a license to operate this development in South Africa will have a hard time convincing the Minister otherwise. On the other hand, maybe there is a way around gaining a license for the damaging fracking process.
Written by Laura Oneale