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Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory



Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory

Other title

Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing of unconventional reservoirs in the Northern Territory; Interim report into hydraulic fracturing; Final Report: Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing; Final Report Appendices: Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing; Draft Final Report : Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing; Draft Final Report Appendices : Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing; Summary of Draft Final Report : Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing; Background and issues paper; Fracking implementation plan; Fracking implementation plan Parts 2 - Recommendations


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The report sets out the work undertaken by the Inquiry to date in assessing the impacts and risks associated with any potential onshore unconventional shale gas development in the Northern Territory. The report explains the method by which the Inquiry proposes to gather and then assess the evidence relevant to the issues that have been identified and discussed with the public. Where appropriate, the Interim Report makes some preliminary assessments about the likelihood of some of those risks eventuating as well as the methods to mitigate the risks. Finally, the report de4scribes the future work of the Inquiry that will be undertaken prior to the release of its draft Final Report by the end of the year.; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


The Inquiry is Chaired by Justice Rachel Pepper. The panel comprises 10 eminent scientists across a range of disciplines. Includes bibliographical references : pages 161-170. Publication spans 2017-2018; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).

Table of contents

Executive summary -- Purpose of the Inquiry -- Work of the Inquiry to date -- Evidence and risk assessment methodology -- Summary of discussions at community forums and the revised list of issues -- Shale gas development and management -- Shale gas in Australia and the Northern Territory -- Water -- Land -- Greenhouse gas emissions -- Public health -- Aboriginal people and their culture -- Social impacts -- Economic impacts -- Regulatory reform -- Future work of the Inquiry -- Appendices 1-14




Gas wells -- Hydraulic fracturing; Coalbed methane -- Environmental aspects -- Northern Territory; Coalbed methane -- Economic aspects -- Northern Territory; Shale gas

Publisher name

Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry; Northern Territory Government

Place of publication



10 volumes : colour illustrations, colour maps ; 30 cm.

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https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444277; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444275; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444278; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444280; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444282; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444284; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444287; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444290; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444291

Page content

BACKGROUND AND ISSUES PAPER 20 February 2017 19 7.4. Public health Table 7.4 lists the potential risk factors associated with the hydraulic fracturing of onshore unconventional shale reservoirs and its associated activities on public health. The main pathway through which chemicals and hydrocarbons will come into contact with humans or livestock is likely to be groundwater and atmospheric emissions. The Panel recognises that there may be work, health and safety risks to workers on site due to the potential for exposures to be relatively higher than people located off-site. The Panel is of the view that such risks are different to public health risks and are outside the scope of this Inquiry. Value Risk Drilling and fracking chemicals There may be a risk that chemicals used during the drilling and hydraulic fracturing process are harmful to humans and livestock. Further, there may be a risk that those chemicals come into contact with humans or livestock via groundwater or atmospheric pathways. While the overall concentration of harmful chemicals in the water is low, the actual amount of chemicals can be significant and may pose a threat to the environment if not properly managed. Hydrocarbons and BTEX There may be a risk that hydrocarbons associated with the extracted gas come into contact with humans or livestock via groundwater or atmospheric pathways. This may include aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX), which have featured prominently in some risk assessments relating to petroleum and unconventional gas extraction, although BTEX is less likely to be a prominent feature of gas extracted from shale deposits. The use of BTEX in drilling and fracking fluids is prohibited in the Northern Territory. Radioactive substances There may be a risk that radioactive materials from underground come into contact with humans or livestock as a result of the drilling or hydraulic fracturing process. Mental health and wellbeing There may be a risk that the mental health and wellbeing of persons could be affected by an unconventional gas project. These factors could include increased costs of living associated with changing property values, access to social services, business failures, increased traffic, effects on the natural environment and concerns about the amenity of the local area. Diesel fumes There may be a risk of emissions from plant and equipment, such as diesel fumes from drilling equipment and pumps and from off-site increases in road traffic. Physical safety There may be a risk that physical safety may be compromised by factors associated with hydraulic fracturing including road transport accidents and seismic activity. Cumulative risks There may be cumulative risks associated with some or all of the risks identified above.

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