The final report of the NT Fracking Inquiry has been handed down, and it has made clear that the risks involved with shale gas fracking are too great to experiment on Aboriginal communities.

No further fracking exploration can even be considered until we know the true extent of the risks to water, climate and culture, says the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network.

“Communities across the NT are terrified at the prospect of the fracking industry destroying water, land and community health, and this report has done nothing to quell those fears,” said Nicole Hutton, Garawa woman and Seed Campaigns Director.

“The Gunner government has a choice to make - side with greedy gas companies who see nothing but a quick buck, or stand up for the future of the NT by keeping the gas in the ground and protecting Aboriginal communities from fracking.

“We are calling for a permanent ban on fracking in the NT to protect communities from the dangers of shale gas fracking. There should be no sacrifice zones where one community suffers the impacts - as we saw back in November at the Aboriginal Fracking Forum, communities are saying no fracking, not anywhere.

“The Inquiry found that all of the known prospective onshore shale gas areas, including the Beetaloo Sub-basin, are on areas that are either Aboriginal land under the Land Rights Act or where native title exists (Indigenous land) - it is Aboriginal land that will be fracked, the government must not ignore how strong the opposition to fracking is in Aboriginal communities.

“This report goes on about the risks of fracking but their mitigation strategies are weak when Australian governments have never successfully regulated the fossil fuel industry, nor have any recommendations, inquiries or reports into Aboriginal affairs produced outcomes for our people.

“A 2km buffer zone from well site to drinking water, playgrounds and schools is unacceptable when people’s lives in remote communities rely on a single source of drinking water (pg 37). Every young person has the right to grow up without fear of getting sick from poisoned air and water.

“Water is life in the Northern Territory, yet even when the Inquiry states that the risks of drawing down groundwater are unacceptable (pg 17)  and without a full understanding of groundwater systems in the NT, it still says that gas companies will be able to take groundwater away from communities(pg 17). A full baseline study of each aquifer should be undertaken prior to any exploration, so as to not leave the burden of proof to frontline communities.

“When it comes to the impact of climate change which will disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Panel states that there is a significant risk of increased methane emissions, that are unlikely to be offset (pg 34), the Gunner government must listen to the 30 climate scientists who have signed an open letter stating that burning this gas would be a climate disaster. Any gas burnt from any basin will fuel dangerous global warming, and that damage cannot be undone.

“The inquiry is incomplete given the number of risks that still require further studies - to water, waste, health and climate. There is no way that the current moratorium can be lifted given the lack of understanding about so many of the impacts

The Final report is available here for download.