Campaigner tells of wells ‘nightmare’

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Queensland anti coal seam gas campaigner Dayne Pratzky is calling on WA landholders to join the fight against hydraulic fracturing.

Mr Pratzky visited WA this week to investigate onshore gas operations in the Mid West and tell locals about his experience with the industry.

The Lock Your Gate Alliance activist hosted a meeting with WA Wilderness Society’s Dane Griffin and South West anti-fraccing campaigner Rob Alder.

Mr Pratzky told about a dozen people at the meeting to take action against mining companies before it was too late.

“Companies are drilling right now, so it’s time to get active, ” he said.

“If you don’t do something now, this could become a multi-generational issue.”

Mr Pratzky is based in Chinchilla in southern Queensland where up to 4600 gas wells are in operation and 36,000 coal seam gas wells are planned.

“What is happening here is extremely similar to what happened in my area, ” he said.

“It’s an environmental and social nightmare.”

The Lock Your Gate Alliance has grown to about 800 members since its inception last year.

Its members refuse to communicate with or allow access to mining companies that want to mine on their land.

Leaker and Partners mining law specialist Mark Leaker said the lock your gate technique would have more weight in WA than the eastern states.

“WA is the only State where mining cannot take place on farmland without the written consent of the landholder, ” he said.

Mr Leaker said the activities of Lock Your Gate members in the eastern states would delay the mining process, but miners would find a way onto properties.

He said WA land could be compulsorily acquired by the Crown, which could be a way for miners to get around landholders’ objections.

Mr Pratzky was approached by a petroleum company two years ago, but turned it away after researching the potential impacts of fraccing.

He helped push for a Senate inquiry into the impact of coal seam gas mining in the Murray Darling Basin, which led to a moratorium on the process.

Several chemicals used in the fraccing process were banned in Queensland after they seeped into local aquifers.

These chemicals were also found to contain carcinogens and to cause potential harm to unborn babies.

It is not known if the same chemicals are being used in the fraccing at Dongara and Eneabba.

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