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Pilliga gas drilling rig halted by community protest

Two dozen farmers, Gomeroi Traditional Owners, local community members and supporters have risked arrest to blockade a coal seam gas drilling rig in the Pilliga forest in north west NSW this morning, saying too much damage has been done by Santos and calling for the Government to intervene to stop the controversial exploration program.

Santos' coal seam gas drilling equipment and a convoy of trucks have been halted as protestors have blocked the road and a Sydney man has attached himself to a crane that was scheduled to move the rig to a new site in the forest.

Wee Waa district farmer Angus Hamilton is concerned about encroachment of gasfields onto farmland and damage to the groundwater aquifers that support communities across the north west of the state.

“The water under the Pilliga forest supports the entire region, and that’s why people have come from across the region to risk arrest to stop Santos from drilling into the Pilliga again.”

“Farmers in north-west NSW are facing chronic lack of water, and we are willing to protest to defend our groundwater from damage and contamination by Santos.”

Local Pilliga tourism business owner of 30 years, Maria Rickert, joins the blockade out of concern for the future sustainability of her business, family and groundwater supply. 

Ms Rickert said, “It is difficult to find time away from the business to stand up to this destructive industry, but I am proud to be here to stop this machine from puncturing the Pilliga aquifer any more.

Over the past three months, Santos’ latest exploration program has been subject to ongoing protest over the impact of drilling on groundwater and the risk of contamination of the Pilliga Sandstone, a Great Artesian Basin recharge aquifer.

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