South Africa 22.7.2014 12:43 pm

Zuma must halt fracking process – activists

FILE PICTURE: The Karoo near Willowmore, Eastern Cape. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons (Winfried Bruenken)

FILE PICTURE: The Karoo near Willowmore, Eastern Cape. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons (Winfried Bruenken)

President Jacob Zuma has been given 30 days to halt the issuing of exploration licences for fracking in the Karoo, the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) said on Tuesday.

“We want to see physical steps to halt the process… He is the one that needs to put a stop to it [bearing in mind] the new evidence,” CEO Jonathan Deal told reporters in Johannesburg.

TKAG and civil rights group Afriforum hand-delivered a letter to Zuma’s offices at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Monday.

In the letter the groups call for Zuma to investigate the fracking process and to speak to South Africans about the matter before issuing exploration licences.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. It involves pumping a mixture of water and chemicals into the ground. Activists have raised concerns about the process as it uses vast quantities of water and the chemicals could contaminate surface and underground water.

If Zuma failed to address the matter, the two organisations would approach Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Failing this they would go to the high court.

Deal said going to court would be the last resort. If needed they were financially secure enough to take the matter to the Constitutional Court on the basis that there were no meaningful attempts by government to engage with the public on the matter.

Afriforum’s head of environmental affairs, Julius Kleynhans, said that during Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address in May, the president effectively set the fracking process in motion.

“Afriforum is concerned with the points raised by TKAG to president Zuma. New evidence presented from abroad and the lack of public participation are issues that require immediate attention.”

The two organisations said this was an opportunity for government to address the flaws in the shale gas mining process without the need for expensive and embarrassing litigation from citizens.

Sapa

 

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