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Energy, Government NT

NT Government approvals of Tamboran’s Beetaloo fracking project leads to concern and outrage

Climate Media Centre 5 mins read

The Northern Territory government has announced approval of Texan gas company Tamboran’s Environment Management Plan to allow the company to commence fracking in the Beetaloo Basin, NT.

 

Doctors, First Nations people, locals, environmentalists and community groups are calling for Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to ensure Tamboran’s polluting fracking plans are now scrutinised under the water trigger in national environment laws.

 

Fracking is one of the most environmentally damaging ways to extract gas. It kills native animals, contaminates local land and pollutes water supplies, and there is growing international evidence that fracking can harm the health of people living nearby, including pregnant mothers and their unborn children.

 

The following spokespeople are available to comment:

 

Northern Territory Paediatrician Dr Louise Woodward, said:

“The scientific research is clear, fracking is dangerous to human health, harms the environment, and drives climate change. Many countries around the world have banned fracking on health grounds. As doctors, we urge the NT Government to prioritise the health and well-being of Territorians and put an end to this dangerous industry.”

Location: Darwin, NT

For interviews with Louise please contact her on: 0405 531 576


Parents for Climate Darwin member Phil Scott said: 

"Territorians know the gas industry has enormous influence over the Lawler Government, so sadly this approval is no surprise. 

 

“That’s why it’s so important that this project be subject to the full scrutiny of the water trigger under Federal environment laws.

 

“We’re calling for the Federal Minister, Tanya Plibersek, to step up urgently and either require the company refer it or call it in herself for full assessment under the water trigger.”

Location: Darwin, NT

For interviews with Phil please contact him on: 0457 241 603

 

GetUp Chief Campaigns Officer and Gooreng Gooreng woman Amy Gordon said:

"Traditional Owners have been saying no to fracking for over a decade, there is no consent to frack. This is an insult to Traditional Owners across the entire Northern Territory.

 

“Tamboran has relentlessly shown that they cannot be trusted to protect water. Water is life for remote First Nations communities.

 

“Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek must exercise her new national water trigger powers to protect water from fracking. This means calling in Tamboran and Empire Energy’s fracking proposals for rigorous national assessment over their significant risk to water.”

Location: Sydney, NSW

For interviews with Amy, please contact GetUp! Senior Media Advisor Amy Morgan on 0455 595 642 or amym@getup.org.au 

 

Environment Centre NT Executive Director Kirsty Howey said:
“This is a disgraceful and risky deal that amounts to the NT Government propping up the business case for a carbon bomb that will set the Northern Territory on a path towards climate collapse.

 

“Tamboran’s Shenandoah project is not even approved, calling into question the independence and integrity of current assessment processes for this disastrous project.

 

“The NT Government’s shoddy gas-reliant energy system is entirely a product of its own making, including a famously disastrous deal with Eni to supply gas which has utterly failed to deliver.”

 

“The Government should be investing in renewable energy and storage to shore up our energy security, rather than shackling our economy to a new, utterly unreliable gas source, which should have been jettisoned years ago.”

Location: Darwin, NT

For interviews with Kirsty please contact ECNT Communications Manager Elliot Hughes on 0413 740 016

 

Frack Free NT spokesperson Pete Callender said:
“Territorians are outraged that the NT Lawler Government has approved Tamboran's dangerous and highly polluting fracking project. Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek told Territorians that new fracking projects would undergo federal assessment for their impacts on water. That hasn't happened. We need Minister Plibersek to step in before it's too late.

 

“Fracking in the NT has about as much chance of going ahead safely as me catching the million dollar barra in my bathtub.

 

“Territorians remain defiantly opposed to Tamboran, and any other fracking company that wants to risk our groundwater and supercharge climate change.”

Location: Darwin, NT

 

Central Australian Frack Free Alliance coordinator Hannah Ekin said:

"The approval of Tamboran’s huge new fracking project is a betrayal by the NT government. Fracking is deeply unpopular in the NT and we are sick of NT Labor backing their donors in the gas industry over their constituents and even the rank and file of their own party.”

Location: Alice Springs, NT

For interviews with Hannah please contact her on: 0491 283 520 

 

Climate Council Head of Advocacy Dr Jennifer Rayner said: 

“This decision from the Northern Territory Government is an environmental travesty that screams for urgent national reform. It underscores the urgent need for a national environment law that can halt new climate-wrecking projects and their devastating impact on our climate and cultural heritage.

 

"Our current national environment law is not fit for purpose. 

 

"We cannot afford to let reckless companies frack our future at the expense of the community. The government must act now to fix our national environment law so it addresses the climate pollution fuelling the climate crisis."

Location: Canberra, ACT

For interviews with Jen, please contact George Hyde on: 0431 330 919

 

Australian Conservation Foundation climate program manager Gavan McFadzean said:

“Granting Texan gas company Tamboran the right to drill gas wells in the Northern Territory goes against Australia’s national interest.

 

“Tamboran gas will make climate disasters worse, it’s for export so will do nothing for energy security at home, it has devastating impacts on the NT environment and is opposed by Traditional Owners.”

Location: Melbourne, VIC

For interviews with Gavan please contact Josh Meadows on: 0439 342 992

 

To arrange interviews, please contact Dylan Quinnell on 0450 668 350 or dylan.quinnell@climatemediacentre.org.au 

 

Background information

Impacts of the proposed Shenandoah Exploration and Appraisal project:

  • Tamboran wants to drill and frack 15 horizontal gas wells. Based on recent wells drilled in adjoining areas, these may reach 4,300m deep and over 1,000m long.  
  • Use up to 1,117ML of water for fracking and drilling, including extracting 375
  • ML/year of water from the Gum Ridge Formation of the Cambrian Limestone Aquifer
  • from up to 24 new groundwater bores. 
  • Tamboran’s plan indicates the project will use as much as 606,000 litres of chemicals and 2,351 tonnes of sand per well.
  • Lock the Gate analysis calculates the project could release up to 1.1 million tonnes of direct greenhouse gas pollution over four years (Tamboran’s own lower estimates relied on vague intentions to sell gas directly from the site to claim a lower carbon footprint).
  • Tamboran proposes storing up to 34 million litres of wastewater in huge open storage ponds on site during the wet season, despite Fracking Inquiry recommendations that fracking wastewater should be kept in enclosed tanks to limit contamination risks.
  • The project would be built upstream of Lake Woods – the NT’s largest freshwater lake and a place of immense cultural significance for Traditional Owners.
  • The project would clear 145 hectares of habitat likely to support threatened and declining species including the Gouldian Finch and Spectacled Hare-wallaby.

Background on Tamboran:

Last year, Tamboran Resources was fined for using 300,000 litres of untreated wastewater to suppress dust at its Maverick 1 site in 2022, ahead of big rains. Whistleblower contractors later revealed they were told to spray drill rig water despite Tamboran knowing the fluid was contaminated. In the same year a bund wall broke during flooding, spilling sediment and potentially toxic chemicals down towards Newcastle Creek. Investigations were also launched for what appeared to be the pumping of contaminated water into a cattle breeding paddock last year.

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