Unconventional gas activity carries a serious threat of groundwater contamination, surface water pollution and depletion of the groundwater aquifers.
South Africa is a water scarce country. Fracking is likely to have a serious impact on the water catchments in all the areas where it takes place. The 10 000 or more fracking wells in South Africa, could each use 20 million litres of water.
Extraction of Coal Bed Methane requires that the area be dewatered first. That means removing all the existing water.
Water used in the fracking process is mixed with chemicals, some of which are highly poisonous. Much of the water returns to the surface as waste water, bringing with it shale gas and dissolved salts and minerals, like radio-active uranium. This water must be treated and disposed of. Storing water in settling ponds in a region subjected to droughts, high evaporation rates and floods is not safe. South Africa does not have the technical capacity to deal with large volumes of highly toxic water over long periods of time.
There is always a danger of leakage and spills which can contaminate the land, during transfer, mixing, drilling and the handling of flow back liquid; through leakage from wastewater storage ponds and evaporation pits and when pipeline and cement casings crack or perish.
Pollution and contamination of water will have wide ranging impacts on our economy, health and the environment.