The perils of destroying the
Greenpeace has explained that the fracturing of a single well requires a huge volume of water – between 9m and 29m litres. Chemicals make up about 2% of the fracturing liquid and 15% to 80% of the fluid injected may be recovered – but the rest remains underground, where it’s a potential source of contamination of water aquifers.
The fracking process brings a significant risk of contamination of SA’s valuable water resources and can pollute drinking water. We know many parts of SA already experience water shortages and the Department of Water Affairs is constantly asking us to save water. The amount of water fracking requires will put further pressure on water supplies and could bring serious problems at many levels. That could be really damaging to an area such as the Karoo, which already suffers from a lack of water.
The process of fracking isn’t regulated in SA and has never been used in this country. But we’re lucky. We have – as part of our Constitution – a Bill of Rights that contains, most unusually, a section on the environment, the so-called green rights, that states we all have a right to “an environment that is not harmful to [our] health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that: (i) Prevent pollution and ecological degradation. (ii) Promote conservation. (iii) Secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.”
This is surely a wake-up call to us all to write to our MPs and to the relevant Government departments to point out the perils of this proposed development and demand permission to proceed be refused. Or is fracking – alongside mining in sensitive areas, such as the vicinity of Mapungubwe and in other parts of Africa – one of the cruel conflicts brought about in the wake of the discovery of oil. Is that the real Africa of today? What shall I tell my sister-in-law?