Fracking “detrimental” to SKA
According to the findings of an investigation into fracking in the Karoo, the controversial process will impact on radio astronomy projects in the area.
Shale gas exploration in the Karoo could harm the multi-billion rand Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the Department of Mineral Resources has found.
According to the findings of an investigation into hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – in the Karoo by the department, the controversial process will impact on radio astronomy projects in the area.
“Unmitigated radio-frequency emissions produced by the operation of heavy industrial equipment in shale gas exploration and production are expected to be detrimental to radio-astronomy operations,” the report reveals.
Despite this finding, the department says fracking will be allowed to continue and ways will be found to accommodate shale gas exploration and radio astronomy projects in the area.
International oil company Shell SA, Bundu Gas & Oil and Falcon
Gas & Oil have requested exploration licences to search for shale gas in more than 250,000km² of the Karoo.
“Although this matter requires more detailed analysis and investigation, the current study suggests that suitable mitigatory measures be established to accommodate both. It is expected that there will be a process of areas that will delineate areas where exploration and production activities of shale gas will be precluded,” the report adds.
In June, government Government gazetted regulations restricting activities in areas which will host the multi-billion rand Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.
According to the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act 21 of 2007 no mining or prospecting will be allowed in areas which host the SKA; the Southern African large telescope (SALT) as well as the MeerKAT radio telescope.
The SKA project would be protected under the Act which regulates the area’s radio interference and declares the entire Northern Cape Province – with the exception of Kimberley – as an astronomy advantage area
According to department’s report site-specific analysis will be a prerequisite for operations in areas defined by the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act.