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Petition launched to save Murray-Darling from 15 million tonnes of toxic coal seam gas salt waste

Chinchilla farmers have launched a petition calling on the Albanese Government to intervene and stop plans for a 15 million tonne coal seam gas waste dump at the headwaters of the Murray Darling River System.

The petition says the Federal Government should also ban all coal seam gas mining until a solution is implemented to safely dispose the massive amounts of toxic waste it produces.

Petitioners want the Federal Government to step in because the We Kando waste facility, located on the banks of Stockyard Creek/Rocky Creek near Chinchilla, has now received all state and local government approvals to store the waste.

Santos has even proposed trucking waste hundreds of kilometres from its planned coal seam gas project near Narrabri in NSW to the Chinchilla facility.

The launch of the petition comes shortly after Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek toured the Murray-Darling and criticised the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan under the previous government.

More than 16,000 coal seam gas wells have been drilled across Queensland since the industry’s inception, about half the number the State Government predicts will be drilled by the end of the decade. The majority of the waste is stored in 36 giant “brine” evaporation ponds in places like Kumbarilla State Forest (Photos available here and here). 

Despite this, the Queensland Government only released an advisory paper (CSG Brine Management Action Plan) seeking to adopt a permanent solution to the massive problem of coal seam gas waste earlier this year.

The paper, which was heavily influenced by the gas industry, did not make any firm recommendations, but did say dumping the waste in landfill was the preferred option.

Chinchilla grazier Glen Beasley, who lives downstream of the waste facility, said, “Globally salt is the number one agent for soil degradation. When laced with introduced and naturally occurring toxins such as the BTEX chemicals, arsenic, and radioactive material, CSG waste becomes a hazard to human health, primary industry, and the environment.

“I was on the consultation committee for the future disposal of CSG waste and toxic brine management plan, and my and other stakeholders’ scientifically informed concerns were ignored. The authors and the government appeared to do anything but acknowledge the herd of stampeding elephants in the room concerning the disposal of CSG toxic salt and brine.

“That’s why we’re calling on the Albanese Government to step in and stop this madness before it’s too late.

Independent scientific reports show that, should coal seam gas waste be stored in landfill, the lining beneath it will eventually rupture, and the contaminants will leach into the Murray Darling River System.

“At the end of the day, clean air, clean water, clean soil and clean food is every human being’s birthright.”

Chinchilla grazier Elena Garcia said the river needed to be protected from coal seam gas contamination at all costs.

“Farming and coal seam gas cannot coexist. You can have sustainable farming and clean water, or you can have the gas industry. You can’t have both,” she said.

“Coal seam gas waste contains huge volumes of salt, highly toxic poisons, carcinogens including BTEX chemicals, radioactive materials, and arsenic.

“Salt kills. It will kill all freshwater life along the river. We don’t need a wave of death going down the Murray-Darling in the next flood. You can’t get rid of it, and that will be our clean food and water poisoned. 

“At almost every turn, the Palaszczuk Government has backed the coal seam gas industry at the expense of farmers, communities, and the environment. We’re hoping the Albanese Government, and the Australian public, get behind this petition and step in where the Palaszczuk Government has so clearly failed.”


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