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Grey Water
Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

Pro-fracking argument is all gas

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor

In his address on fracking at the Press Club on May 23, Chris Nissen made some extraordinarily erroneous statements.

What's so pretty about this? Photo by World Resources Institute

Mr Nissen agreed that the ANC had a financial interest in Shell, but he sees nothing wrong with this. Thus the ANC are both the decision makers – as to whether the practice of fracking should go ahead – and part owners of the fracking company. This makes them both the player and referee.

He states that the groundwater in the Karoo is “useless”. He thereby, accepts that the groundwater will indeed be destroyed by fracking. Mr Nissen, the whole of the Karoo depends on groundwater for its survival. By polluting the aquifer, the Karoo as we know it today will be destroyed forever.

Is your memory so short that you forget that only last year Beaufort West was kept alive by some kind folk who donated and trucked water to the town when their dam completely dried up? The town thereafter survived on water supplied exclusively from boreholes.

If the ANC and Shell partnership goes ahead then municipalities will die too.

The surface water will be affected too. It will be polluted from the drilling tailings, fracking fluids and radioactive minerals left on the surface that will run off into rivers. Add to this the trillions of litres of sea water that Shell and others intend to truck into the Karoo, the first avenue is into rivers.

Addressing the topic of renewables, Mr Nissen spoke of the ugliness of wind turbines. He did not mention PV (photovoltaic) technology at all. Are drilling rigs, gas pipelines, pylons and coal power stations pretty? Why single out wind turbines? Continue reading Pro-fracking argument is all gas

What are the merits of fracking?

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor

Test results indicate that at least one common fracking chemical has contaminated drinking water in the town of Pavillion, Wyoming.

How strange it is that a department DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) which ironically shares a ministerial portfolio with Water Affairs (DWEA) should suggest that fracking be given a chance and saying that there was “merit” in carrying out some hydraulic fracturing.  There were no merits in what was reported though the report did mention one demerit in what they had said viz – “the avoidance of the contamination of fresh water resources” in the Karoo.  So what in fact are the merits of fracking?  As there were no meritorious things mentioned we have a chance to look at some of the negative things.


  • Shell’s employees are on record as having said that they wish to burn the methane gas produced from fracking wells on their pad sites.  These pads will be on somebodies farmlands, and they plan to generate electricity from the burning of the gas thus sending millions of tons of carbon dioxide per annum into the air.  This will supplement the CO2 already generated in South Africa from the burning of coal.  The question should be asked why use fossil fuels to generate electricity? Have they not heard that economists agree that it is now less expensive to generate electricity with renewables such as from photo voltaic panels i.e. solar energy than by using fossil fuels.  Continue reading What are the merits of fracking?

Shell gets green light to explore for gas

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 08 July 2011

Australian green activists expressed outrage at a government decision to allow energy giant Shell to drill for gas at a pristine reef that was listed as a World Heritage site just two weeks ago.

The proposed exploration well would be around 70km from the Ningaloo Reef

Ningaloo Reef is considered a natural wonder, sprawling some 260 kilometres (155 miles) along Australia’s west coast and teeming with hundreds of tropical fish and coral species.

The UN’s cultural body UNESCO listed the remote Ningaloo coast as a World Heritage site late last month due to its reef, sea turtles and white whales.

But environmentalists say it could be under threat after the Australian government green-lighted a proposal from Shell to explore for gas nearby.

“We are very concerned that the Australian government is even allowing the oil and gas sector to operate so close to the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef,” WWF’s Paul Gamblin told ABC Radio

“It really beggars belief that they aren’t requiring a full environmental estimate of Shell’s latest drilling proposal.”

Gamblin said the Shell operations would run along the side of the reef itself, a “new frontier” for drilling, which has previously been confined to its northern corner.

Shell issued a statement saying it was “mindful of the significant biodiversity and heritage values of the Ningaloo region and we continue to plan our operations accordingly,” noting its long safety record in the region. Continue reading Shell gets green light to explore for gas

There is no confusion about fracking in SA, says lobby group

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 April 2011

Cabinet’s vote is clear in putting a halt to fracking at this time

A lobby group opposed to hydraulic fracturing as a mining technique has dismissed media reports this morning, which stated that Shell’s fracking application for the Karoo would continue to be heard.

A report in the Cape Times this morning claimed a moratorium announced by Cabinet last week had no impact on existing applications for fracking licenses, and that it rather only affected new applications.

“It is absurd for anyone to suggest that Cabinet intended anything other than what is clearly described in the press release that was issued last Thursday,” said TKAG national coordinator Jonathan Deal. A press release said that Cabinet had, “… endorsed the decision by the Department of Minerals to invoke a moratorium on licenses in the Karoo where fracking is proposed.”

“The statements attributed to the Department of Minerals spokesperson Bheki Khumalo today would serve only to rubbish the clear written directions from Cabinet, as described in their press release,” said Deal Continue reading There is no confusion about fracking in SA, says lobby group

Fracking won’t impact on SKA bid

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 21 April 2011

There seems to be little chance that oil giant Shell’s plans to prospect for shale gas in the Karoo Basin using the “fracking” method will have an impact on South Africa’s bid to host the square kilometre array (SKA) radio telescope.

An artist's impression of what the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope will look like.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said this in a written reply to the National Council of Provinces.

“An application can only have impact if granted,” she said.

“If the Shell application is granted, and if Shell uses communication systems with frequency ranges that interfere with radio telescope operations, the prospecting will affect radio astronomy.”

However, the South African SKA project office (Saspo) had proactively met with Shell and Golder Associates to indicate communications restrictions.

“All operations in the Karoo will be comprehensively addressed through regulations under the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act 2007, which are expected to be finalised in the 2012/13 financial year, following consideration of the outcomes of the public consultations on the astronomy regulations, Pandor said. Continue reading Fracking won’t impact on SKA bid