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First ever legal challenge against major federal CSG approval: Santos' 6100 CSG well expansion in Queensland

The Western Downs Alliance has commenced legal proceedings which will challenge the Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunts, approval of 6,100 CSG wells in Queensland.

The Santos GLNG Gas Field Development Expansion expands across almost 1 million hectares of land, from Roma east to Taroom and Wandoan, and north towards Rolleston.

The community group has lodged a case in the Federal Court of Australia against the approval under the national environmental law, arguing that the Minister’s approval was unlawful because he ignored plans by Santos to discharge large volumes of CSG waste water into the Dawson River.

Western Downs Alliance will be represented by public interest environmental lawyers EDO NSW.  

“The Santos plan for 6,100 new CSG wells in Queensland is a recipe for disaster for the Great Artesian Basin and for landholders who depend on it” said Western Downs Alliance spokesperson Sarah Moles.

“The Environmental Impact Statement for the project predicts that it will impact on 73 water bores used by landholders in the area, and will extract 219 billion litres of water over the life of the project and produce 22 billion litres of salty brine as waste.

“Our water resources, and particularly the nationally significant Great Artesian Basin, are far too important to be put at risk for a short-term industry like CSG.

“We have launched this challenge because we believe Minister Hunt’s approval is unlawful. This case is the first of its kind.  

“Minister Hunt assessed and approved this development under the Water Trigger that was put into the national environmental law in June 2013 specifically to protect our water resources from large coal and CSG development.

“However, in this case it appears from the documents that Minister Hunt didn’t assess the impact that the inevitable release of large volumes of waste water from the CSG project into the Dawson River would have.

“The people of Qld are sick and tired of CSG companies riding roughshod over farmers and communities, and putting long-term water supplies and food production under threat.

“We’re determined to test whether this approval was given lawfully, and to act in the interests of landholders and water resources in our region.

“The next step in our case is crucial - we have asked the Minister to provide all of the documents that he relied upon to make his decision to approve the project” she said.

The Independent Expert Scientific Committee advised that there is considerable scientific uncertainty about potential impacts on surface and groundwater from the project:

  • Reduced water supply to important springs of the Great Artesian Basin
  • Cumulative impacts on groundwater pressures
  • Impacts from wastewater discharge into the Dawson River
  • Changes to groundwater and surface water quality

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  • Tui Hendry
    commented 2016-06-16 23:54:15 +1000
    Absolutely appalling irresponsibility to the point of amorality – such drastic and predictable consequences for the benefit of narrow, vested interests.