Lessons for Queensland in toxic coal seam gas contamination

Published: March 09, 2014

Queensland should heed a strong warning following disturbing media reports yesterday that coal seam gas company, Santos was fined for contaminating an aquifer with uranium and other toxic heavy metals. See here

The uranium levels found at the aquifer at the Santos work site in the Pillaga state forest in New South Wales were 20 times higher than safe drinking water guidelines.

Santos, which is operating a huge coal seam gas project in Queensland, was fined when its joint venture partner, Eastern Star Gas, allowed water to seep from one of its CSG water holding ponds into a shallow aquifer. The aquifer was damaged beyond repair.

President of the Lock the Gate Alliance, Drew Hutton, said such pollution could occur when a holding pond leaks, when a frack or drilling operation goes wrong or even when contaminated 'produced water' is sprayed on roads as dust suppressant.

Mr Hutton said the Pilliga incident proved contamination is a real problem and Queenslanders should be on notice.

“This incident has put the lie to the CSG industry's claim it has never contaminated an aquifer and should set alarm bells ringing about similar incidents happening in Queensland," he said.

 "Once an aquifer has been contaminated, it cannot be fixed and so there are farmers and towns all over Queensland hoping that such an incident does not happen in their communities.

 "Queensland authorities are totally dependent on the companies informing them if such a polluting incident happens. At present companies are able to spread produced water from the coal seams all over our rural roads with no regulatory controls whatever.

 "This means that salt, uranium and other toxic pollutants could be sprayed over the countryside in any amounts and it is legal to do so.

"The Queensland State Government has also given the Origin energy company permission to spread drilling muds over agricultural land with no controls over dangerous contaminant levels.”


Drew Hutton, National President Lock the Gate Alliance ph: 0428 487 110

Kate Dennehy, Qld Campaign Coordinator LTG ph: 0419 432 624

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