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National Party’s tin-ear at Gloucester: Govt gives approval for the latest fudge at AGL’s Gloucester CSG

Comments by National Party member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen, about community feeling about coal seam gas at Gloucester show the Party has a tin-ear to public sentiment on the issue, as approval is given for controversial dam storage of contaminated CSG water at the site.  

Polling conducting in the Gloucester and Great Lakes local government areas (crossing the Upper Hunter and Myall Lakes electorates) ahead of the March state election revealed a large majority, 75.6%, of people opposed the coal seam gas operation at Gloucester, including 64.6% of National Party voters. 71.6% of respondents said they were very concerned about the possibility of water pollution from fracking operations.

Last week, the NSW government gave AGL approval to store fracking “flow back water” in an open dam at their coal seam gas exploration site near Gloucester in the latest move to fudge environmental protection to suit the controversial project and apparently in breach of their own policies.

AGL applied in April for an amendment to their CSG fracking approval to allow them to store the fracking fluid that returns to the surface after fracking operations, known as “flow back water,” in a dam onsite, after efforts to find appropriate ways to remove, treat and dispose of the water failed. Last week, the Department of Resources and Energy approved the controversial plan.  

Lock the Gate NSW Coordinator, Georgina Woods said, “AGL’s plans and arrangements at Gloucester are shifting with the weather, and when you’re talking about dangerous chemicals, that is very alarming.

The EPA’s policy on flowback water requires it to be “appropriately stored and transported to a facility that is licensed by the EPA to take that type of waste.” That agency is due to take the lead in compliance for coal seam gas operations in just three weeks.

“AGL now say they will have arrangements in place to properly treat and dispose of this water by 3 August, or that they will wait until November to have on onsite water treatment plant installed. We are talking about clean up arrangements for a fracking operation that took place six months ago.

“This whole sorry operation in Gloucester exemplifies the major gaps in coal seam gas regulation and management in New South Wales. There is simply no justification for the Government to continue to allow more coal seam gas operations to take place in this state while there are important safeguards and policies still being put in place. We need a moratorium on any more activity until the Government gets its act together.”

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