The NT Government has again been accused of failing to keep its promise to implement all the key rules to allow fracking for onshore gas to continue.
Enclosed tanks will not be used on drill sites to store wastewater from the fracking promise at all times.
Open air ponds will be used for evaporation of wastewater as well, it was stated this week.
Protect Country Alliance spokesman Graeme Sawyer today said people's worst fears had been confirmed.
"Not only will poisonous fracking waste water be left in open dams, potentially harming animals and the environment, but that the NT Government sees nothing wrong with this.
"The doublespeak used to justify the process, whereby the wastewater goes out of a holding tank into the open air evaporation pond and then back in again is galling, and resembles something out of a Monty Python movie script.
"This is a clear rejection of Justice Pepper's recommendations, and should outrage every Territorian who cares about our unique natural environment.
"At the crux of this problem is a government captured by the gas fracking industry and a disregard for biodiversity. It's a classic example of watering down the recommendations to make it cheaper and easier for the frackers."
The admission was made in an NT Government Estimates hearing this week.
This is despite repeated promises to faithfully implement all the 135 recommendations from the Pepper inquiry into hydraulic fracturing which allowed a mining moratorium to be lifted.
In a joint media release from Primary Industry and Resources Minister Paul Kirby and Environment Minister Eva Lawler on June 12 they stated: "In response to public submissions, the Code (of Practice) has been revised to make it clear that enclosed tanks are required to be used to store wastewater. The Code has also been made clearer regarding wastewater treatment, evaporation, transport and disposal requirements."
Ms Lawler again said at Estimates this week: "We are thoroughly and comprehensively implementing every one of the 135 recommendations of the hydraulic fracturing Pepper report."
In announcing the moratorium of gas exploration was to be lifted last year, Chief Minister Michael Gunner almost promised to implement all the recommendations.
Speaking at Estimates this week Chris Shaw, the executive director for Onshore Gas Reform, said wastewater must be enclosed in tanks.
"However, on the flip side, particularly at these early exploration scale of the industry there are not a lot of waste water management solutions available locally ...," he said.
"...which means we want as little volume as possible of this waste water and to do that we have allowed for evaporation to be used so water that comes back from the wells it must be stored in the enclosed tanks but we are also saying that we are allowing evaporation to be used primarily as a mechanism to reduce the volume, reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from waste transport, reduce the road safety issues from waste water transport and reduce the local social impacts from waste water transport.
"Water comes out, goes into the enclosed tanks and then can be evaporated but while it is being evaporated, we have a range of other controls in relation to potential rainfall events and in particular flora and fauna and the biggest concern has been about avian fauna, about birds.
"We have gone back to the companies who are doing their detailed wastewater management plans now to talk with them about what the particular birds might be in that area and how they are proposing to reduce any risks to those birds to as low as reasonably practical."
Mr Shaw also said the Government took advice on the recommendations from the CSIRO "to help us come up with best practice science around the storage of waste water in particular as this question relates to".
"From there we went out to peer review, both national and international peer review, to get advice on how they felt our proposed approach dealt with the recommendation of the inquiry report as well as the best available science and they supported what we came up with.
"Then we went out to the public for consultation, and this was the biggest issue that came back from the public consultation-the use of these enclosed waste water tanks. We basically went back to really thoroughly review the approach taken and strengthen the code to-it now, as the minister says-we have complied with that recommendation to store waste water in enclosed tanks. The code is now much more specific saying that water must be stored in enclosed tanks."
In response to a questions, Mr Shaw said the wastewater has to be stored in an enclosed tank.
"... however, if it is being evaporated for the purpose of reducing the volume of that wastewater, it is allowed to not be in the enclosed tank, only for the time that it is actually being evaporated. You would not only have an evaporation pond, you would have the enclosed tank and you would be able to move it from the enclosed tank to the evaporation facility, and then back into the tank."
Further comment has been sought from the NT Government.
We have also reached out to the Independent gas industry regulator Dr David Ritchie over the past month on this issue with no response.
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