An independent hydrological analysis has found there may be a risk of contaminants from the former Linc Energy Underground Coal Gasification disaster zone moving offsite if Arrow Energy is permitted to build a gasfield in the immediate area as planned.
The analysis, commissioned by the State Government in response to Arrow Energy’s risk assessment report, found “it cannot be conclusively stated that contaminants (including Benzene and napthalene) will not migrate beyond the site boundaries due to Arrow’s development”.
The analysis also definitively states, perhaps for the first time publicly, that an increase in methane bubbles in the nearby Condamine River is due to coal seam gas production in the area.
“The Condamine “Bubbles” exist because the river overlies one of these systems. While the seeps are a natural system, the gas escape is enhanced by down-dip CSG production, which is approximately 1km away.”
A 2017 GISERA report failed to conclusively point the finger at the CSG industry for the increase in methane bubbles, and in fact argued other factors may have been responsible.
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said the analysis showed coal seam gas drilling was not worth the risk in the area.
“This site was described by the State Environment Minister at the time as the worst environmental disaster in Queensland’s history. This latest analysis shows a serious risk of contamination spread remains. Arrow Energy must not be allowed to experiment with this disaster zone, and put the surrounding community at risk,” she said.
“Benzene and naphthalene are both toxic to humans. The Palaszczuk Government must not put people’s health at risk by allowing Arrow Energy to drill so close to this contamination site.
“The kind of mitigation measures suggested in the report are unprecedented in Queensland and highly speculative. If we allow drilling now and mitigation later we will be exposing the public and taxpayers to even more risk. It’s just not worth it.
Ms Smith said the analysis also raised questions about why the cause of an increase in methane bubbles in the Condamine had not been definitively released previously.
“The way it is written, it seems as though this is an accepted fact for those in the industry. But, as far as we’re aware, the public have been left in the dark.
“The Condamine River can literally be lit on fire due to the high presence of methane. Now we know that this is unequivocally thanks to the CSG industry.
“We call on the Palaszczuk Government to press pause on the rampant, unrestricted expansion of the CSG industry in light of this latest analysis.”