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Categories : Onshore Mining, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
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Categories : Connected Tairāwhiti, Empowered Tairāwhiti, Prosperous Tairāwhiti, Sustainable Tairāwhiti, Vibrant Tairāwhiti
By the end of last year, Gisborne District Council was owed about $3.5m in overdue rates on Maori land. Council recently agreed to the establishment of a working group to focus on the issues relating to Maori land and rates.
As it turns out, central government also has a group working on the issues, as have many governments before the current one. In fact 80 years ago Sir Apirana Ngata and the Prime Minister, George Forbes, established a joint committee to inquire into the question of unpaid rates on Māori land. The committee found significant areas of land had no rateable value and recommended local authorities to remove such areas from valuation rolls. The committee visited a number of the development schemes on Māori land that Ngata had initiated and the members were impressed with the productivity gains generated off these blocks.
These schemes assisted in a wide range of successful cooperatives operating on the East Coast, enabled Māori to retain ownership and created thousands of jobs.
The Waitangi Tribunal suggests that rates “were initially introduced as a tool of local government to meet its own infrastructure needs and those of settlers, rather than in response to what Māori may have wanted.”
Before 1893 the law did not allow Māori land to be sold to cover rating debts and central government reimbursed local authorities for unpaid rates on Māori land (that it turns out had been grossly overvalued). From 1910, nearly all Māori land became rateable unless held under customary title. In 1924, responsibility for rates recovery was shifted to the Māori Land Court. From then on, if arrears accrued against the land, it could be the subject of a charging order by the court, and placed in receivership or trust for lease or sale.
From 1950 to 1970, new legislation extended the powers of the court to force the development of ‘unproductive’ Māori land that had not been able to pay rates. The Waitangi Tribunal has found that a major effect of legislation introduced during this period seems to have been to boost the use of receivership as a means of rates enforcement.
The whole concept of local government rates has its philosophical origin in European legal theory that all land is ultimately held by the Crown. However, in New Zealand the question has persistently arisen in the development of rating law as to whether land not held by the Crown, but rather held by Maori in customary tenure, should be subject to rates. Council’s Whenua Rahui policy recognises this issue to some degree.
Since the 2007 Local Government Rates Inquiry there has been a shift and valuations for rating purposes make some small concession for the complexities of Māori land tenure and specify this on rates demands.
Dr Api Mahuika has advocated establishment of a Ngāti Porou local government district – some of my colleagues might support this proposal given the high cost of maintaining roads across such a large area and the large proportion of unpaid rates coming from the northern part of the district. Of course such a proposal is unlikely to be within the scope of our working group but it seems a similar emphasis on self-determination is the basis of the Tuhoe position on Te Urewera, as it was for Gandhi before Britain quit India. There are myriad examples of semi-autonomous governance arrangements around the world, so hopefully these local questions eventually get the full consideration they deserve.
The new Council working group will meet next month to determine the Terms of Reference and will no doubt welcome key stakeholders in the discussions and potential solutions. Watch this space!
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Categories : Empowered Tairāwhiti, Local Governance, Prosperous Tairāwhiti, Regional Economy, Regional Infrastructure, Sustainable Tairāwhiti, Tangata Whenua
The Regional Transport Committee last week had a lively debate on whether one of the top three goals for the district transport programme should include encouraging alternatives to the private motor vehicle. In the end we agreed encouraging alternative transport options is important and agreed that promoting cycling, walking and public transport is a priority.
Private cars use approximately 60% of all fuel consumed by road transport, New Zealand imports and burns through more than $20million of fuel per day!
A 2009 report by the Ministry of Transport suggests we spend a lot more time in the car and less time spent walking and cycling than we did 20 years ago. Gisborne drivers travel less distance than any other region in the country and Gisborne cyclists spend longer on our bikes each week than any other region.
In the mid-nineties there were about 15,000 motor vehicles crossing the Gladstone Road bridge each day, I suspect the volume might be slightly higher than that now. Around the country only 1% of people travel to work by bicycle, while 94% travel in a private motor vehicle. And only 5% of students – or one quarter of those that cycled when I left school 20 years ago – now cycle to high school.
In 2004 the Gisborne District Council signed up to the ‘Walking and Cycling Strategy for the Gisborne District’.
The vision of the strategy is that:
‘Gisborne District is a walking and cycling friendly region. Walking and cycling are safe, convenient, enjoyable and popular forms of transport and leisure that contribute to community, well-being and tourism.’
Targets for how the effectiveness of the strategy were to be measured have never been added to the empty boxes in document, though some general goals such as 10% of students walking or cycling to school by 2015 and an increase by 10% of commuters travelling to work by walking or cycling by 2015 are goals we now have only three years left to achieve. It is time to review the Strategy.
An iconic project included in the Strategy and championed by people like the late Murial Jones, Kathy Sheldrake, Phil Evans and Richard Coates is the Wainui-Sponge Bay cycleway. This project is designed to make it safer for commuter cyclists coming from Wainui and recreational cyclists from the city to get in and out on, particularly given the rapid increase in heavy vehicles on State Highway 35. We expect a funding decision on this project within the next month.
The Gisborne Cycling Advisory Group was established a couple of years ago and has made some great contributions to cycle route planning in both the urban and rural areas. Focused largely on commuter and tourist cyclists, the group meets monthly and is open to anyone keen on advocating for cycling infrastructure and encouraging the public to cycle more.
As a recent Australian report on the economic benefits of cycling reveals, bicycle travel cuts millions off the national waist line and bottom line. Inactivity is now a major cause of health problems and cycling provides a practical, sustainable and cheap opportunity to help get more Kiwis active and drive down the cost of health care.
Of course the more cyclists there are, the safer it becomes – and while we may be seeing a national trend away from commuter cycling, most Gisborne city residents have few excuses not to cycle or walk to work. The city is relatively compact, very flat, enjoys a good climate and has an ever increasing number of cycleways. It has been great to see so many people on bikes this summer, how can we encourage even more to make the move?
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Categories : Connected Tairāwhiti, Healthy Tairāwhiti, Regional Environment, Regional Infrastructure, Safe Tairāwhiti, Sustainable Tairāwhiti, Transport
I’ve decided to keep a running record of a few of the serious incidents Petrobras has been associated with in the last year or two – these are just the ones we hear about…
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- 30 barrels spilt from a Petrobras rig off Rio on 13/2/12.
- 160 barrels of oil leaked from Petrobras platform offshore from Sao Paulo
- Brazilian navy fuel barge sinks in Antarctica with 63 barrels of Petrobras produced fuel onboard, incident hidden by four government ministries responsible for the Antarctic mission
- death of another Petrobras employee and injury of two others in a Boxing Day accident on the PUB-03 oil rig in offshore waters in Rio Grande do Norte state, northeast Brazil
- fire on the same day at its Duque de Caxias oil refinery in Rio de Janeiro are just the latest in a series of deadly incidents and accidents earlier in the year. The refinery is already the subject of a criminal investigation launched by the Federal Police Department of Environment and Heritage after tests carried out by technicians from the State Environmental Institute (INEA) and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ) on a nearby river found high levels of pollutants during December 2010 and in August of this year. A spokesperson for the Police said the material dumped in the river violated the limits set by environmental law.
- a spill from a project co-owned by Petrobras and Chevron spewed 3,000 barrels of oil into the sea and took a week to get under control. Local government authorities have taken a civil lawsuit against the polluters claiming US$11billion in damages.
- a Petrobras worker was killed and his colleague badly disfigured from a refinery explosion in Argentina that was similar to another fatal accident two years earlier.
- A major incident in the Gulf of Mexico involved a deep sea riser coming loose with a 130 tonne buoy narrowly missing another rig as the company prepared to start the first new extraction since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Had the break happened a few days later when oil had started pumping, analysts claim it could have resulted in a disaster similar to the BP oil leak in 2010.
- An article in the Washington Post quoted engineers worried about the risks of a technology still being tested. Ricardo Cabral de Azevedo, a petroleum reservoir engineer at the University of Sao Paulo who has done research for oil companies in the US, said the industry is worried about the ultimate fail-safe: the blowout preventer, a complex device that slices through pipe to instantly cap a well in a disaster. At BP’s Macondo field, the BOP, as it is known in the industry, suffered compound failures. Azevedo said companies may be pushing the bounds of technology by going deeper than 2,500m or more of water (as is the case in parts of the Raukumara Basin). “It is a problem because all the equipment has to go to higher pressure, and higher pressure may cause failure,” Azevedo said of the BOP. “We really don’t know if it will function.”
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Categories : Drilling, Regional Environment, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
A Gisborne District Councillor has told the Select Committee considering a bill that would regulate the Exclusive Economic Zone that the government was playing Russian Roulette with coastal communities.
Manu Caddie, one of 129 submitters on the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Bill, was speaking to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee today when he explained that oiled debris from the Rena was now washing up on Gisborne city beaches and a “one pager” of rules for EEZ exploration applications was grossly insufficient.
Mr Caddie said the Bill does not provide details on what the new regulations will be, resources to clean up anything but a minor spill are non-existent and the public should have input on the detail of rules governing exploration and extraction in the EEZ.
“If the Interim Impact Assessment Guidelines become the requirements within the EEZ Act then they omit detailed baseline sampling of the current state of the area where the activity is proposed” said Mr Caddie. “How can contamination be proven if no baseline sampling is provided beforehand? The wording at present is very vague and should be more prescriptive.
Mr Caddie also pointed out that an oil slick is no respecter of jurisdiction and will not stay within the EEZ.
“Local councils and iwi authorities should be given a veto power if there is enough local concern and support for such a position.”
Mr Caddie stressed that the proposed timeframes between when an application is received, must be notified, submissions made and hearings/decisions is far too short.
“Companies could work on an application for many years and communities will have less than three weeks to read, analyse and respond to complex technical reports, Impact Assessments, financial calculations and other application details – so the timeframes should be more like 3-6 months for submissions.”
In response to a question from Labour List MP Moana Mackey, Mr Caddie said he was very concerned about the imbalance in resources. Mining companies have “bottomless pockets” compared to the councils and communities that will be affected by an application according to Mr Caddie who represents the Gisborne City Ward and is on the committee of a marae near Ruatoria. “The Government needs to provide public resources and expertise, such as university and CRIs, to councils, iwi and communities that wish to make submissions on an EEZ application” said Mr Caddie.
“All the best practice in the world will not be able to ensure deep sea drilling doesn’t go wrong – the Government is playing Russian Roulette with our coastal area. Rena, Montara and Deepwater Horizon have proven there does not exist the technology or resources to contain anything but a minor spill very close to shore under perfect marine conditions.”
Mr Caddie suggested if the Committee had read the report by the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon disaster they would know it had identified serious systemic problems within the petroleum exploration industry that have still not been addressed. Many of the same companies involved with the Deepwater Horizon spill are active in the burgeoning New Zealand exploration industry.
Mr Caddie said the safety record of applicants needs to be considered carefully and pointed out that Brazilian oil giant Petrobras has had two significant oil spills since November and two workers killed and a number seriously injured in the last six months alone. One of the spills has seen the companies involved taken to court by local authorities for $11billion. BP is in court this month trying to limit their liability to $30-40b and otherwise could face $100b.
Green MP Gareth Hughes asked Mr Caddie if a climate change clause should be included and Mr Caddie agreed with that the suggestion that climate change impacts should be considered for all applications under the proposed legislation.
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Tags: Deep Sea Drilling, EEZ, Petrobras
Categories : Drilling, Empowered Tairāwhiti, Prosperous Tairāwhiti, Regional Environment, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
I would like to read the study Alwyn (26/1/12) refers to that suggested a 1960 Morris Minor may be a better environmental option than a hybrid vehicle. I have found a 1960 Morris Minor for sale in Hawkes Bay for $120. It has no WOF or Registration but is “good for parts”.
Of course the most environmentally-friendly option is to not use a car.
In 1994 I read a paper entitled “The Environmental Consequences of Having a Baby in the United States” by Charles A.S. Hall, et al. (State University of New York).
The study calculated that over their lifetime the average person (based on 1994 consumption rates in the USA) uses around 3,103 tons of glass, 3,288 tons of metal, 2,697 tons of plastic, 1,034 tons of rubber, 1,870 barrels of oil, 233 tons of coal, 370kg of lead, 26,187kg of cement, 4,238kg of nitrogen, 5,151kg sweeteners, 347kg coffee, 1,654 chickens. Each person is responsible for the loss of just under one hectare of indigenous forest, 5,430kg of fertiliser and 119kg of pesticide.
The authors concluded that many people are looking for ways they can protect the environment for the sake of future generations and no doubt controversially recommended that the most effective decision an individual can make to protect the planet is to abstain from making another human being.
The waste management hierarchy of: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – expresses the order of importance of these ideas and practices. So it would be reduce the demand for vehicles as the first priority, repair and reuse existing ones, and recycle the components as much as possible. Perhaps a fourth step is ‘rethink’ the way we create and consume.
In 2007 a report was published by CNW Marketing Research, Inc., entitled “Dust to Dust: The Energy Cost of New Vehicles From Concept to Disposal.” It was said to measure in dollars and cents all the energy used in creating, building, operating and disposing of each vehicle over its entire lifetime. The report gained worldwide media and consumer attention, mostly because it concluded a Hummer H3 was a better option than the Toyota Prius. The report was quickly discredited after its calculations and claims were proven from a wide range of sources to be completely false and misleading at best (for example the paper “Dust to Dust Report Misleads the Media and Public with Bad Science” by Dr Peter H. Gleick, Pacific Institute, 2007).
Contrary to ‘facts’ in ‘an American survey’ quoted by Alwyn, last year the US Consumers Union tested a 2002 Prius that had done over 300,000km and compared it to the test they had done 10 years earlier on a Prius with only 3,000km on the clock. The report concluded that the effectiveness of the battery has not degraded over the long run. Hybrid batteries are no worse for the environment than the batteries in every traditional motor vehicle. All the hybrids on the market use NiMH batteries, which contain no heavy metals (so they’re not classified as hazardous waste unlike Lead-Acid batteries) and are more easily recycled than alternatives. And I’m not sure where the ‘survey’ authors got their prices from but in the unlikely event of needing a replacement battery they cost about $2,000.
Alwyn is correct that a battery probably uses more energy and resources to produce than a fuel tank. But while numerous reputable studies suggest hybrids are better than traditional cars, when we take into account the energy and resources associated with all the transport and infrastructure costs of cars, it seems the only option will eventually be learning to live without them again.
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Categories : Regional Infrastructure, Sustainable Tairāwhiti, Transport
It seems the tide is turning.
The Dominon Post reports that over 300 people participated in a protest on Wednesday in Napier organised by local farmers to coincide with the Apache presentation to the Hawkes Bay Regional Council. Concerned residents in Hawkes Bay have a long and growing list of questions they would like answered by the companies and councils involved. Until satisfactory assurances are provided by independent experts, these citizens and ratepayers are saying they don’t want fracking to happen in their region.
Yesterday I received a copy of the letter from the Christchurch City Council dated 16 January 2012 to the Minister of Energy and Resources requesting a moratorium on fracking until an independent inquiry is completed into the practice. The resolution in the Council was passed 10 votes (including Mayor Bob Parker) to 2.
In the last month more jurisdictions around the world including a number of local authorities in Ireland and the country of Bulgaria have joined France, South Africa, New York State and dozens of smaller authorities across North America in establishing a moratorium or banning fracking completely. Many of these decisions have been endorsed by the local chambers of commerce, medical boards, oil and gas commissions and water catchment boards.
The Labour Party has this week suggested Parliament instigates a ‘robust inquiry’ into the practice in New Zealand – either by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment or the Environmental Protection Agency. Unlike the recent report on fracking released by Taranaki Regional Council, the Terms of Reference for such a study would need wide agreement from experts across a range of disciplines and be at arms length from the legislators, regulators and industry.
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Categories : Drilling, Healthy Tairāwhiti, Prosperous Tairāwhiti, Regional Environment, Safe Tairāwhiti, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
Alex Ferguson from Apache Corporation yesterday said the company did not offer to pay for an “all-expenses trip” to North America for staff from councils in New Zealand. He also said “It is an unfortunate and not a very welcoming situation that someone decided to give this sort of distorted information to be published.”
This doesn’t seem to be the understanding of council staff who negotiated the arrangement and wrote in their report that is on the public agenda for our meeting this week: “TAG Oil and Apache Corporation… have suggested council staff travel to [British Columbia]… Apache Corporation have offered to pay external costs…”
Mr Ferguson implies I made contact with the Sunday Star Times, in fact it was the reporter that initiated contact and asked questions that I responded to based on what was in the publicly available report to Council.
I take no responsibility for how the reporter chose to frame the situation – I think he was misleading but, as Mr Ferguson acknowledges, the situation risks such interpretation which was why I made sure the reporter knew that Apache is not in charge of the itinerary. While Mr Ferguson may commute from Canada on a monthly basis, overseas travel by public servants in NZ is always viewed with particular interest by New Zealanders.
Mr Ferguson confirms TAG has drilled at Tangamatai near Whangara. Of special interest to me is that the resource consent permits the use of the product “Drill-Pro” and allow for four wells to be drilled but the TAG Oil Annual Report 2011 says they have drilled eight stratigraphic wells on the site.
I understand more drilling this week is planned at the Tangamatai property based on what I was told by someone close to the drillers, but perhaps it simply the drilling for the 700-800 explosive charges to be detonated as part of their seismic survey work near Whatatutu.
To their credit Apache Corporation has demonstrated a commitment to meeting with local residents and trying to answer the many questions presented. The proposed trip to Canada would be useful and I have full confidence in GDC staff who are competent professionals with the highest levels of integrity.
Yesterday I was pleased to receive a copy of the letter from the Christchurch City Council dated 16 January 2012 to the Minister of Energy and Resources requesting a moratorium on fracking until an independent inquiry is completed into the practice. I hear a protest has been organised by farmers in Hawkes Bay to coincide with the Apache presentation to the Hawkes Bay Regional Council this week. This month a number of jurisdictions around the world have banned fracking completely. It seems the tipping point may be close.
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Categories : Drilling, Prosperous Tairāwhiti, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
This is a list of questions relating to the Apache/TAG exploration plans for the East Coast that I will try to post answers for – feel free to ask any other questions in the Comments Box below to add to the list.
The responses are my understanding at the time of writing and do not necessarily reflect GDC or anyone else’s opinion or position.
The staff report on the proposed visit is available here.
A discussion on Radio NZ Morning Report (23/1/12) about the trip is available here.
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1. Who is the GDC staff member going on the trip to Canada?
Trevor Freeman, Manager of Environmental Services and District Soil Conservator is the staff member that his manager is recommending for the trip. Trevor’s participation is yet to be confirmed, it is a recommendation to the full Council meeting on 26 January and councillors may decide he should not go or that GDC should fund it without Apache assistance.
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2. How are they and GDC going to manage the moral/ethical pressure (subconscious as well as conscious) of being beholden to the oil company that is hosting-paying for them to make such a trip?
The itinerary will be on the public record once confirmed – and is in fact still open if people have suggested contacts that the group could visit near Calgary, Fort St John and Victoria, BC. Trevor will provide a full report to Council on his return and is expected to establish contacts with regulators and other stakeholders in Canada that should be broader than just those arranged by Apache Corp. By definition subconscious pressure will be difficult to manage, but staff understand that Apache Corp. representatives will be at only a few of the meetings scheduled – probably only the meetings with their Canadian staff.
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3. Why to Canada and these parts of Canada in particular?
British Columbia seems to be the area that Apache is most active in fracking – including in 2010 the largest frack job ever completed at that time. It seems sensible to make contact with people there who have seen the impacts firsthand and establish some ongoing connections between us and them as a way to share learning, experience, policies, concerns, etc.
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4. Why is this money being accepted by GDC for just one individual to travel all that way to look at a few examples and talk to just a few people in the world when there’s masses and masses of information and research available to many and from all points of view?
GDC can and will still access as much of the reliable information available online and from various academic and independent sources as it comes to hand. This is an opportunity to see the impacts firsthand, to build networks and build the capacity of GDC staff to understand the process which our district has no previous experience with. I am working on a primer on fracking that collates the most compelling peer-reviewed evidence against the practice to share with my colleagues and the public – assistance with this project would be appreciated!
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5. What could be achieved by the money being used for a panel of widely respected district people (Council, Iwi, other community interests) to independently review all available information and report to the district on all the issues as they apply to the East Coast (and if necessary, interview people by skype, define what trips to observe directly should be made by whom about what)?
This could also be something GDC require Apache to fund as part of any new consents application. Apache has reportedly invested $100million in the project, so they should support a robust investigation process by NZ regulators and the public, and their representatives have made public comments to that effect.
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6. What is GDC’s logic and rationale for a geotechnical / soil conservation staff member going?
Most of the resource consent applications will relate to disturbance of the soil and discharge to land – there is also likely be water take and possibly discharge to air consent applications and the individual going to Canada is responsible for all these areas as Manager of Environmental Services.
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7. Who initated this oil-company funded trip?
I understand it was recently proposed by the company to staff from the three councils involved (Gisborne District Council, Hawkes Bay Regional Council and Horizons Council).
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8. What and whose purposes and intent is the trip designed to serve?
My understanding, based on the report going to Council this week, is that the trip is designed to help build the knowledge of GDC staff in relation to Apache Corp. operations in Canada and the regulatory framework employed by Canadian authorities. I guess the company hopes the visit will reassure Council staff who work on behalf of their residents and ratepayers that Apache Corp. is a socially and environmentally responsible company that is regarded with respect in the areas of Canada it operates. My support for the trip will be because it enables our staff to also have direct contact with environmentalists, First Nations representatives, politicians and regulators who may have concerns and even direct opposition to Apache Corp. activities.
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9. What alternative uses of $ oil company offering for: research / review / staff training / were debated/considered – if any?
The trip is seen as a valuable learning opportunity for staff. It is expected that the costs will be between $3-5k and these will be incurred by GDC and then reimbursed by the company. Further staff training, research and reviews will definitely be required and may be funded as part of any consent application and/or funded by Gisborne ratepayers, central government and possibly academic institutions – like Auckland University that next month is hosting a visiting researcher from Duke University that has published papers documenting the dangers of fracking.
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I’ve asked Apache/TAG Oil and GDC staff to comment on the following questions and will post responses if/when they provide them:
What environmental and public health risk assessments are being undertaken before drilling is finally scheduled, and by whom?
What insurance cover will be in effect, covering landowners and GDC, to cover loss of potable water supply due to petroleum contamination, land erosion etc.?
Is a survey of water supply catchment significance, in relation to proposed drilling sites being undertaken?
What would be the proposed method for handling drilling water flowback and drilling waste disposal, bearing in mid the hazardous chemical nature of oil shale or oil source rock detritus?
What engineering measures would be envisaged to prevent long-term corrosion and seismic shock damage to well casing which could result in petro-chemical contamination of aquifers?
What fracking chemicals are expected to be used for oil shale work: BTEX volatiles, barium, diesel oil?
What fracking pressures would you expect to be used if working into oil shale?
At Whakatutu, where do you anticipate that the high volumes of drilling water needed will be obtained from?
Will the well borers used by Tag/Apache test completed cement casing, if ‘yes’, what is the method of testing?
To what depth would bore cementation be taken, from the surface and how many steel liners would be used to below waster aquifer depth?
Would you anticipate using ponding areas for storing flowback water etc. at the drilling site?
If commercial quantities of gas or oil are found, what would be the means for transporting the gas/oil from the drilling site and to where?
Aquifer water in the vicinity of drilling sites should be pre-tested for petroleum contaminants prior to commencement of drilling and reasonably frequently after drilling.This testing should, ideally, be undertaken by an organisation unrelated commercially to the petroleum industry?
In view of the fact that drilling operations are subject to material failures, human error, faulty cement injection and seismic shock damage, what assurance can the petroleum industry give that aquifer contamination will not occur as a result of such factors?
Does Tag Oil/Apache acknowledge that deep drilling and fracking can result in earthquake shocks, as acknowledged by the USA Geological Survey after the series of shocks experienced last year in Northern Dakota, also at a Cuadrilla Ltd. Drilling site near Blackpool, in England, as acknowledged by the U.K. Geological Survey?
In view of the fact that deep drilling and fracking can cause earthquake shocks, is a survey of faultlines being undertaken across the proposed drilling area, in relation to possible earthquake shock generation? ( Ref: Deep drilling and high-pressure injection caused a series of earthquake shock in the Denver, Colorado area, between 1961 and 1966, when toxic chemicals were being disposed of underground, the disposal method then being abandoned due to the earthquakes).
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Categories : Drilling, Onshore Mining, Regional Environment, Safe Tairāwhiti, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
- This report could be useful for the delegation to read prior to the trip – and perhaps a meeting with the author, Ben Parfitt. Here’s the promo video for the report.
- Bob Simpson, a BC politician seems pretty concerned about fracking in BC, so a meeting with him might also be worthwhile: www.bobsimpsonmla.ca/contact
- I’ve also made contact with Adam Thomas from the Saik’us First Nation and he’s talking to others about an opportunity to meet with the delegation. Most of local opposition to Apache Corp recently has been focused on it’s billion dollar pipeline across the country, including blockades by the Wetsuweten First Nation.
- Indigenous peoples in Argentina have been occupying Apache Corp plants in Neuquēn on a regular basis in opposition to alleged local water pollution, but the delegation isn’t heading to that part of the Americas – though I would like to establish links with these people in Argentina as we have with fishermen in Brazil who have been opposing Petrobras activities in their bay.
The delegation plan to visit Calgary, Victoria and Fort St John in British Columbia – so let us know urgently if there are any other contacts that may be good to meet with in these areas.
We can also send any questions on to Apache Corp. representative Alex Ferguson who has said the company will answer as best they can.
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Categories : Empowered Tairāwhiti, Onshore Mining, Prosperous Tairāwhiti, Regional Environment, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
Another Petrobras rig worker dies and no sign of legislation to adequately regulate NZ deep sea oil drilling30 12 2011
Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie has renewed his call for the government to suspend the East Coast exploration permit for Brazilian energy giant Petrobras following another death on a rig operated by the company.
Mr Caddie says the idea that Petrobras has a good safety record is a myth.
“The government and big oil lobbyists in New Zealand have claimed Petrobras is one of the safest oil companies in the world. The list of incidents involving Petrobras over 2011 must see it come close to being one the most dangerous employers and polluters on the planet.”
Mr Caddie says the death of another Petrobras employee and injury of two others in a Boxing Day accident on the PUB-03 oil rig in offshore waters in Rio Grande do Norte state, northeast Brazil and another fire on the same day at its Duque de Caxias oil refinery in Rio de Janeiro are just the latest in a series of deadly incidents and accidents earlier in the year.
The refinery is already the subject of a criminal investigation launched by the Federal Police Department of Environment and Heritage after tests carried out by technicians from the State Environmental Institute (INEA) and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ) on a nearby river found high levels of pollutants during December 2010 and in August of this year. A spokesperson for the Police said the material dumped in the river violated the limits set by environmental law.
A major incident in the Gulf of Mexico in March involved a deep sea riser coming loose with a 130 tonne buoy narrowly missing another rig as the company prepared to start the first new extraction since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Had the break happened a few days later when oil had started pumping, analysts claim it could have resulted in a disaster similar to the BP oil leak last year.
In August a Petrobras worker was killed and his colleague badly disfigured from a refinery explosion in Argentina that was similar to another fatal accident two years earlier.
In early November a spill from a project co-owned by Petrobras and Chevron spewed 3,000 barrels of oil into the sea and took a week to get under control. Local government authorities have taken a civil lawsuit against the polluters claiming US$11billion in damages.
“Petrobras is not a model corporate citizen and the new Minister of Energy and Resources should not be allowing it to operate in New Zealand waters” said Mr Caddie.
“Under the draft EEZ legislation hurriedly introduced to Parliament, local authorities have no role in decision-making about proposed offshore drilling and can only make a submission within the short timeframe like everyone else” said Mr Caddie.
“While the politicians and industry have been claiming that New Zealand deep sea drilling will be based on ‘international best practice’ and robust regulations, the draft bill that is supposed to reassure the public and establish adequate safeguards for people and the marine environment contains absolutely no specifics on safety standards, environmental protection or drilling practices.”
An article in the Washington Post earlier this month quoted engineers worried about the risks of a technology still being tested. Ricardo Cabral de Azevedo, a petroleum reservoir engineer at the University of Sao Paulo who has done research for oil companies in the US, said the industry is worried about the ultimate fail-safe: the blowout preventer, a complex device that slices through pipe to instantly cap a well in a disaster.
At BP’s Macondo field, the BOP, as it is known in the industry, suffered compound failures. Azevedo said companies may be pushing the bounds of technology by going deeper than 2,500m or more of water (as is the case in parts of the Raukumara Basin). “It is a problem because all the equipment has to go to higher pressure, and higher pressure may cause failure,” Azevedo said of the BOP. “We really don’t know if it will function.”
“So we have dodgy companies operating under dodgy regulations using dodgy technology in a dodgy environment – what makes us think New Zealand will be immune from the kind of disasters that are increasingly common under such conditions?” said Mr Caddie.
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Categories : Drilling, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie is welcoming news that the Christchurch City Council yesterday agreed to call on the government to put a moratorium in place until a full independent inquiry has been conducted.
Mr Caddie said it was encouraging to see the first local authority take a precautionary approach on the issue given the lack of knowledge about the practice in New Zealand.
“Glaring gaps in a report released last month by the Taranaki Regional Council that was supposed to reassure the public on the safety of fracking simply reinforced growing concerns about the practice” said Mr Caddie.
Recent reports from the United States Geological Survey and a fracking company in the UK that confirm the link between earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing have raised serious concerns about the practice worldwide.
“The TRC report provides no independent scientific evidence on the safety of the practice in relation to seismic activity, nor does it provide information on the rate of well casing failures and provides little detail on waste management and disposal options” said Mr Caddie.
Mr Caddie said he is waiting to hear back from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment who is considering requests to undertake an independent inquiry into fracking.
“We need that inquiry to also consider the bigger picture questions of how oil and gas compare to coal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions as there are conflicting reports on which fossil fuels contribute more to climate change.”
Mr Caddie said he hopes the Christchurch City Council decision will put pressure on the government to put a moratorium in place similar to what South Africa has at present – or it could follow France and ban the practice outright in favour of renewable energy sources.
“Apache Corporation claims France banned fracking to protect its nuclear industry but the French government has suggested it may no longer source electricity from nuclear power as early as 2040″  said Mr Caddie.
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Categories : Prosperous Tairāwhiti, Regional Environment, Safe Tairāwhiti, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
Rail supporters who turned out on Sunday to see what may be the last steam train to ever travel from Gisborne to Wellington heard of plans to establish new tourist ventures if the line is retained.
Speaking to the crowd of over 100 passengers and local supporters, Mainline Steam Heritage Trustee Rob Martin, said he was keen to see the line retained as the Trust planned more train excursions to Gisborne as part of their North Island tour packages. Mr Martin has been studying the financial benefits of using the rail to carry logs to both Gisborne and Napier ports.
Mr Martin said he was equally anxious that the line be retained as a tourist attraction. “The line from Wairoa to Gisborne must be the equal of any scenic line worldwide and has been a must for our annual tour train since the line was reopened three years ago. I pay tribute to the Gisborne City Vintage Railway which has developed a very professional venture being one of only two heritage operators to have their own licence with the approval for its own drivers to operate over KiwiRail lines. In the past Mainline Steam Heritage Trust has been hampered by not owning its own carriages but this has been remedied and we would be very keen to set up an operation in Napier to cover the line to Gisborne.”
“Rail came to Gisborne through political support, it was paid for by our forebears and as the current postcard campaign to John Key points out, this investment is a strategic asset that must be retained to safeguard the future of the Gisborne economy” said Mr Martin.
Green Party candidate Darryl Monteith thanked the 60 passengers and said he hoped they had enjoyed the trip. “One passenger told us the Gisborne branch line is as spectacular as the popular Trans-Alpine route in the South Island” said Mr Monteith. “With rising fuel prices from peak oil and climate change policies, we must retain this line to ensure we have affordable freight options in and out of Gisborne.”
Labour Party MP and East Coast candidate Moana Mackey recalled her memories of travelling on the line for school trips and how the Labour Party had bought back the rundown railways and helped Kiwirail establish a credible, state asset. Kiwirail was now being told it had to cut underperforming lines like Gisborne if it wanted any government assistance.
Geoff Joyce from Gisborne City Vintage Rail lamented the plan to close the line as WA165 was the only locomotive of its class and the Gisborne line was the only option for WA165 to run on. While the Vintage Rail Trust had been talking to Kiwirail about keeping the section to Beach Roop open, that would require a major sponsor to fund it.
Mayor Meng Foon and Deputy Mayor Nona Aston were both out of town for the weekend but passed on messages of support for the line to be retained.
Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie said rail was a safer option than trucking with up to three times the current number of trucks predicted to soon be on Gisborne roads and nearly every month another one rolls on difficult East Coast roads.
“Railing logs to the ports will not cost a single trucking job – volumes of logs are increasing and all we are saying is put anything extra onto rail” said Mr Caddie. “It is not a level playing field between roads and rail – roading has huge taxpayer subsidies, yet rail is expected to be fully self-funded. If the government mothball this line it will be the end of it – that’s a billion dollar investment we won’t be able to afford to replace when we need it in the future. We have seen what happens to mothballed lines in other parts of the country – they are neglected and the lines and sleepers stolen.”
Mr Caddie said the good news was the huge volume of wood due to come out of Wairoa forests in the next five years and he had heard of a Gisborne quarry relying on the rail to move their product out of the district. “It is also heartening to hear of plans for increased tourist trains, though we know increased freight is also required.
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Categories : Connected Tairāwhiti, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
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Categories : Local Issues, Regional Environment, Safe Tairāwhiti, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
While the petroleum industry and government continue to claim there is minimal risk from deep sea oil and gas exploration, a recent oil and gas rig blow-out in Australia produced the equivalent of one Rena spill every day for 74 days in a row.
New Zealand should learn from the Montara oil and gas spill in Western Australia in 2009. A massive slick was released following a blowout from the Montara wellhead platform and continued leaking for over two months. The Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism estimates that the Montara oil leak could have been as high as 320 tonnes per day.
Mr Pfahlert claimed the industry has a spotless safety record, then when reminded of just two recent rig spills in Taranaki he acknowledged there have been more than minor spills in New Zealand. He neglects to also say that Taranaki drills are based in an average of just 150 metres of water. The Raumkumara Basin permit allows drilling in depths of up to three kilometres, the same as the Montara well. The Deepwater Horizon exploratory well that blew out last year was only half as deep.
The Montara and Deepwater Horizon spills suggest, as our Anglican Bishops recently pointed out, that current technology is being pushed beyond safe limits. While there are many deep sea wells being drilled around the world, the risk from deep sea drilling is far greater than the wells New Zealand has benefited from to date in Taranaki. The Raukumara Basin is one of the most geologically unstable areas of New Zealand, the whole plan really is nuts.
The government is rushing legislation to regulate the Exclusive Economic Zone with submissions due this week. The recent major spills, including it seems the Rena disaster, have shown that design, planning and operational decisions cause most spill disasters and it is impossible to adequately regulate against human error. All the regulation in the world can’t clean up a relatively small spill like the one in Tauranga let alone if it had been an oil tanker or well blow out which are thousands of times larger.
The Rena was carrying only around two million litres of oil when it ran aground and only a small proportion of that has so far been released into the sea.
In 2003 the Capella Voyager carrying 126,823,466 litres of oil ran aground near Whangarei and fortunately did not spill its load. If the government’s plans for deep sea oil drilling go ahead, we will see many more large oil tankers operating in NZ waters increasing the risk of another accident.
In 1989 the Exxon Valdez oil tanker also hit a reef. It was carrying 208 million litres and spilled as much as 100 million litres. The effects are still being felt.
East Coast communities have categorically refused to accept the risk being imposed on their coastline and traditional fishing grounds by the government and petroleum industry.
It is pleasing to hear Labour have changed their position on deep sea drilling as the current situation in Tauranga reveals nothing can stop more than a minor oil slick. We can only hope the anger and grief being expressed by Bay of Plenty residents shows the National Party how unacceptable their policy is to coastal communities around the country.
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Categories : Drilling, Regional Economy, Regional Environment, Safe Tairāwhiti, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
On Friday 7 October I established a Facebook Group called the MV Rena Response Monitoring & Action Group – it now has over 1,200 members and has become a useful space for people in the Bay of Plenty and further afield to share updates, information and ideas beyond the one directional mainstream media. Please join the conversation if you are interested in connecting with others concerned about the environmental, social, cultural, economic and political implications of the situation.
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MEDIA STATEMENT 12/10/11 [in response to this article]
Oil industry representatives are in panic mode as the Rena crisis goes from terrible to worse according to Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie.
“Oil companies and the government claims of being able to handle a significant oil spill have been exposed and they are desperately trying to create some distance between deep sea oil drilling and the inability of authorities to contain this or any spill beyond something quite minor.”
Mr Caddie says he has huge admiration for the Maritime New Zealand response and believes everyone involved at an operational level have made the best decisions they could have and have had equipment in place as soon as practical.
“But this clearly shows Hekia Parata and John Pfahlert are disconnected from reality if they think New Zealand can handle a medium sized oil spill, let alone a major one. The system is working perfectly but is clearly unable to control the situation.”
In April the Acting Minister of Energy and Resources claimed in Parliament that New Zealand had adequate resources in place to deal with a major oil spill.
A review of New Zealand’s Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response Capability was published in February 2011. A number recommendations were made by the Melbourne maritime consultancy Thompson Clarke.
In section 7 the report claims that: “Maritime New Zealand currently maintains a response capability of sufficient size to counter an oil spill of 3,500 tonnes, which is deemed to be a ‘one in a hundred year’ event. [...] the New Zealand system put into place in 1998, with equipment, MPRS and 400 trained responders to defend 7,000 tonnes is still substantially in place. The system in place today should be capable of defending 5,500 tonnes.”
The report recommends ‘the 2011 Strategy should clearly identify what the New Zealand capability is expected to respond to’.
“If up to 350 tonnes have so far been released by MV Rena in circumstances that are not unique – what would 5,500 tonnes look like? In the just the first two weeks of the Deepwater Horizon disaster an estimated 10,000 tonnes of oil was released into the Gulf of Mexico.”
“So while New Zealand may have a 400 strong team of world class experts and equipment ready for deployment the truth of the matter is that even a moderate sized oil spill like the one off Tauranga cannot be contained by any amount of equipment or any number of experts.”
“And while Mr Pfahlert may try to minimise the risks his industry wants the East Coast to take with deep sea oil drilling, his suggestion that there has never been a oil spill from an offshore well is just plain wrong.”
Just last year Austrian oil and gas giant OMV, whose New Zealand arm operates the Maari gasfield, accepted responsibility for a spill that saw oil washed up on Kapiti Coast. OMV New Zealand managing director Wayne Kirk said the spill happened at the floating production platform, the Raroa, which is permanently moored 80 kilometres off the Taranaki coast.
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Categories : Regional Economy, Regional Environment, Sustainable Tairāwhiti
In June this year France became the first country to ban the controversial oil and gas mining practice of hydraulic fracking. Under the new law, companies with exploration permits had two months to declare whether they intended to use hydraulic fracturing – if they did, their permits were to be revoked.
The government of South Africa has extended a ban on fracking for another six months while the Minister of Mineral Resources waits on a report from the heads of government departments responsible for trade, science and minerals to be rewritten.
In Australia the New South Wales Governement recently extended a ban on fracking to the end of the year. A further ban on toxic chemicals will be in place when the moratorium is lifted.
Across North America local municipalities have been taking action to ban fracking. In the state of Pennsylvania alone more than 100 townships have passed ordinances to restrict or ban mining, particularly fracking activities, within their jurisdiction. Thus far municipality-adopted fracking bans are in places such as Buffalo, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Morgantown and Westover, West Virginia.
In June the New York State Assembly extended an existing ban on fracking for another year. The New Jersey State legislature passed a bill to permanently ban fracking earlier this year but the Governor vetoed that decision and restricted the ban to one more year.
In the case of Morgantown, the ban stonewalled Northeast Natural Energy, LLC’s fracking operations just outside city limits. In June, Northeast sued the municipality, seeking tens of millions of dollars for the unlawful taking of its property rights without just compensation and last month a judge upheld the company’s claims and reversed the local council decision. The court decision is expected to be appealed.
Should Gisborne District Council or any other local authority decide, after widespread consultation with its residents, to change our District Plan rules and put a hold or ban on fracking within our district, can we expect similar litigation from foreign corporations keen to exploit our natural resources for their profit?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is studying the impact of fracking and last Tuesday submitted a draft of its study to the agency’s Science Advisory Board for review. Initial findings from the study are expected to be made public by the end of 2012. No such study has been commissioned in New Zealand yet and a growing number of people I have been speaking believe we should access to a similar report before allowing any fracking-related activity in the Gisborne District.
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Categories : Healthy Tairāwhiti, Prosperous Tairāwhiti, Safe Tairāwhiti, Sustainable Tairāwhiti