Midlands Conservancies Fracking Awareness

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Midlands Conservancies Fracking Awareness

(A letter from Judy Bell-Chair of the MCF Fracking Awareness Sub-Committee)

Dear All
The first fracking exploration in KZN is set to occur in the Dannhauser District with Sungu Sungu applying to explore for methane to be extracted from coal seams. For this to exploration to be finalised, fracking will need to take place to release the gas for evaluating the reserve. This will affect the water resources not only in the area but also downstream. As this area is in the Thukela River catchment, it is of strategic importance for the province, which is in the grips of a crippling drought and increasing water rationing. We have the opportunity to have our say and we must comment, as if approved, this will be the first of many such applications!
Sungu Sungu are in the process of conducting the Basic Scoping, which seems to be the start of their EIA process to shorten the time frame if they deem it worthwhile to exploit the reserves. This company is involved with the Indian companies involved in the Zululand coal mining applications around Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Reserve and are trying to establish coal-fired power stations in Southern Africa, including Mozambique.
Bobby Peek of groundWork and I had a chat this morning with one of the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) mining legal specialist and this was the main gist:
• The deadline for comments is 5th July in the Scoping Report, but 10th July according to what the consultants told Bobby.
• The Environmental Consultancy employed to do this is Jomela Consulting environment@jomela.co.za or yvonne@jomela.co.za – from whom you get a copy of the Scoping Report and with whom you register as an IAP.
• The area is over 7700 hectares in the Thukela catchment. If Sungu Sungu do the invasive work, then the work will focus on 2 of the farms (Ruston and Sewango) and this is where the drilling will begin.
• Exploration right will be for 3 years.
• Town Planning support is crucial! Implore, encourage, inspire and motivate, whatever it takes to get the Dannhauser Local Municipality not to change the zoning for the farms in the application. This should be done to ensure that water security in the area is not affected and for downstream users too. The current drought is affecting too many areas for anyone to say this will not affect them, as water is moved between catchments.
• No change in zoning, means no exploration or mining! This is in the interests of the municipality as with Marikana, the mines leave the social and environmental impacts to be addressed by them. Dannhauser will not have the money to deal with the influx of people wanting jobs, houses, services etc. Already, the existing legacy of coal is the pollution left behind and there is no money to deal with this, so the next phase of coal mining will be no different. Without clean water, there will be no development, no rates, no nothing! The miners will be long gone with the money in their pockets.
• According to the Scoping Report, exploration has previously occurred (question: was this authorised?? If not, judgement is awaited (due Monday morning!) in the North Gauteng High Court on a Mpumalanga case where it was argued that the applicant had contravened the MPRD Act and thus no right should be granted) and Sungu Sungu will now evaluate the potential of the area.
Recommendations:
• As many different organisations and individuals as possible need to register as Interested & Affected Parties (IAP’s) for this project and comment on the application to DMR via the consultants, Jomela (contact details below)
• Local residents to attend the public meeting and register as IAP’s and please CONFIRM the date for submission of comments
• Ask the local residents (via Philichia Potgieter) to contact the Dannhauser Local Municipality (Planning Dept) and encourage them not to authorise any requests to change the zoning of the land (from agricultural) over which Sungu Sungu have rights. This is a key action. If need be, we can help with talking to the Municipal officials, so Philichia please let us know if you need help.
• Get as many people to spread the word, via electronic (tweets, FaceBook, e-mail, radio stations, etc) and print media – get everyone to run articles/interviews on fracking and Coal Bed Methane Extraction – the impacts on water and human health are the angle to get their attention! Have a look at the US EPA’s website for details.
• For information on fracking, please refer to the Midlands Conservancies Forum’s website which has a Fracking page with links. Numerous blogs have been written and the links to these are also shown.
• Please share these e-mails with other organisations, especially the community and agricultural ones in the area. Everyone needs to be aware and informed.
Please do not forget that the requirement for notifying insurers is essential for all landowners! This is from the TKAG website:

26 May 2014
SOUTH AFRICAN INSURERS POLLED OVER FRACKING RISK
Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) and AfriForum have formally approached South African Insurers and the South African Insurance Association to clarify their policy on the unique risks presented by shale gas mining and ancillary activities.
With the advent of new technology and shale gas mining spreading at a rapid pace in the United States, insurance providers are scrambling to review their polices and adjust accordingly.
For many companies, such as Nationwide, one of the largest insurance companies in the United States, a thorough review of the damages that can arise due to fracking and other drilling activities, has led to the conclusion that it is better for the company to refuse coverage altogether for any damages related to fracking.
According to an internal memo outlining the company’s policy, “After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore. Risks involved with hydraulic fracturing are now prohibited for General Liability, Commercial Auto, Motor Truck Cargo, Auto Physical Damage and Public Auto (insurance) coverage.” Unsurprisingly, this information has raised legal questions and valid concerns for many US home and property owners.
TKAG CEO, Jonathan Deal is of the opinion that the issue of liability for and indemnity from likely claims is something that communities, homeowners and farmers must be informed about. “The potential for loss here – as a result of an accident – or simply accumulated and unanticipated impacts over a period of time – is enormous, and anyone exposed to these risks – even road users, and people with occasional passing exposure to the activity has an undeniable right to be properly informed by their insurer ahead of time.”

A copy of the letter of enquiry in PDF format addressed to the South African Insurance Association and the specific companies is available on request from admin@treasurethelaroo.co.za

Thanks
Judy

Dear Interested and Affected Party
NOTICE OF A PUBLIC OPEN DAY AND AVAILABILITY OF THE SCOPING REPORT AS PART OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT FOR AN EXPLORATION RIGHT APPLICATION.

Petroleum Agency of South Africa Ref- (12 / 3 / 289)
LOCATION: On the farms and Portions of
1) One Tree Hill 3301 GS, 2) Kalebas Vlakte 3749 GS 3) West Hesleerton 7512 GS
4) Wykeham 7582 GS 5) Sewango 8404 GS 6) Eenden Vlei no 2 8504 GS
7) Lilydale 8528 GS 8) Bismark 8561 GS 9) Ruston 9012 GS
10) Brompton 9013 GS 11) Dagbkeer 15254 GS 7km West from Dannhauser Local municipality, Amajuba District, KwaZulu Natal.
DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY AND SIZE OF THE SITE: Sungu Sungu Gas (Pty) Ltd plans an exploration program over Parts of KwaZulu-Natal Province of the Republic of South Africa covering 7 763.3711.00.
NOTIFICATION: Any activity including the operation of that activity which requires an exploration right as contemplated in section 79 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002), including associated infrastructure, structures and earthworks.
NOTICE: Is hereby given of a Public Open Day Meting to be held on the 27th of June 2015 at Mafusini Community Hall at 10am. The Scoping report will be made available for review at these locations from the 9th of June 2015 to the 9th of July 2015:
• Dannhauser Library, 8 Church Street
• Dannhauser Local Municipality
• Newcastle Municipality
Electronic copies will be available at www.jomela.co.za or emailed upon request.

APPLICANT: SUNGU SUNGU GAS (PTY) Ltd Registration number: 2009/016715/07.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please contact Jomela Consulting (Pty) Ltd.
Contact Details: P.O. Box 415, Celtis Ridge, 0130
Tel: (+27) 12 772 2350
Mobile: (+27) 82 970 1513
Fax 🙁 +27) 86 626 4839
Email: environment@jomela.co.za/yvonne@jomela.co.za

MCF NO to fracking ad web jun15