SREBA stands for Strategic Regional Environmental Baseline Assessment and is the vital core element of the Pepper Inquiry.
- The SREBA points to a lot of unknowns that need further research before we can understand the risks fracking poses to the NT.
- The SREBA is due to start in 2020 and is expected to take 3-5 years to complete.
- There is a lot of new research that has been published since the Pepper inquiry that needs to be considered in the SREBA
- The NT Government and Industry groups have been trying to down play the concept of the SREBA, especially the idea of a final risk assessment about fracking. (See yellow box below)
Why the SREBA is so important is laid out in recommendation 4.6 of the Pepper inquiry on page 39 of the report.
Based on the outcomes of the risk assessment, the Panel has made recommendations to the Government that, if implemented, the Panel believes will reduce the risks to an acceptable level. If the Panel finds that specific risks cannot be reduced to an acceptable level, this is stated. In a number of cases, the Panel has recommended that a strategic regional environmental and baseline assessment (SREBA) (see Chapter 15) must be undertaken to provide the additional scientific knowledge and baseline information required before a final risk assessment can be made
The point of the 135 Pepper Inquiry recommendations is where the NT Government and vested interests have misled the community. It is not just about measuring some baselines around the 135 points it is fundamentally about doing the research and then a final risk assessment
It is vital to understand this idea that there are many scientific questions of great importance that the SREBA research needs to investigate before a final risk assessment about fracking is made.
One of the really big issues that needs research is the understanding of water and water flows across the region. Because this area is so dependent on groundwater there are major issues relating to understanding where the water comes from and what it contains and how if at all it might be protected from pollutants such as methane and chemicals used in Fracking. There does not appear to be a way to achieve this protection to date.
The issues of water supply and quality and the integrity of fracking wells have significant implications for the health of people, biodiversity and landscapes across the region and because of the interconnectedness of the water systems much further afield than the Beetaloo area.
There are many other aspects to the SREBA as well, especially community implications of the impacts of disruptive industrial processes like fracking on remote communities and regional economies.
Some of these are
- Human health risks from fracking, both chemical and the social and cultural aspects
- The implications of bacterial corrosion for well integrity
- The Implications of the Moroak Sandstone aquifer and the risk of it connecting to and polluting freshwater layers
- The impacts of chemicals and fracking fluids on water quality
- The impacts of leaking methane on water quality, especially drinking water for Elliot and residences across the area
- The implications of fracking fluids for Stygofauna (small organisms that live in underground water and help to keep it clean)y
- The implications of fugitive emissions for climate change and global heating
- The implications of the scope 3 emissions of the gas emissions for the climate
- Determining where the water systems connect to. Eg do chemicals spilled or injected into fracking sites risk ending up in the Daly Katherine, McArthur and Roper Rivers