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Salt water eruptions on farmland and more river gas bubbles sign CSG expansion must stop

Lock the Gate Alliance is calling for an immediate halt to the expansion of the coal seam gas industry in Queensland and New South Wales following alarming media reports that CSG drilling in southern QLD is pushing salty underground water to the surface via historical coal exploration holes and gas is bubbling in parts of the Condamine River catchment where it’s never been seen before.

The development has demonstrated the potential risks of CSG development, with Origin Energy telling media: “Any of these old coal bores which don’t have sufficient isolations in place may also provide pathways between gas bearing coals and shallow porous formations connected to underlying dams and creek beds.

Worryingly, before the incidents, there was no CSG activity on the property where the salt water has been bubbling to the surface, however the surrounding landscape has been pockmarked with hundreds of coal seam gas wells.

The news also comes as the Morrison Government is forging ahead with its “gas-fired recovery”, taking advice from the COVID-19 Coordination Commission which wants to open up more farmland to the devastating CSG industry like at Narrabri where farmers have long resisted gas company Santos.

Origin Energy is also continuing with its planned fracking operations in the Northern Territory, with drilling expected to resume within months.

Cecil Plains farmer Russell Bennie, whose property sits under an Arrow Energy CSG licence and contains historic coal drilling holes, said he was deeply concerned the distressing situation at Chinchilla would be replicated elsewhere as the industry expanded.

“What’s happening at Chinchilla is our worst nightmare,” he said.

“We’re concerned we will be breathing methane gas for the rest of our lives living on this property and exposed to carcinogens at elevated levels that we just shouldn’t be exposed to.

“Those old drilling bores are commonplace in this region and could become a conduit for gas and gas contaminates here as well.

“It’s not just the abandoned coal exploration holes either - seismic surveys have shown we’ve got a lot of seismic faults beneath our soil which could also act as conduits.”

Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Vicki Perrin said the reports were the latest in a long list of reasons why the Palaszczuk Government must rein in the out of control CSG industry.

“Clearly, this polluting industry is having a terrible impact on farms in southern Queensland, yet the Palaszczuk Government continues to boast about opening up new land for CSG,” she said.

“Since it was elected five years ago, the Palaszczuk Government has released more land for CSG exploration than the size of the entire country of Belgium.

“But, as the alarming revelations earlier this year from the Queensland Audit Office show, successive state governments have effectively lost track of the unconventional gas industry in Queensland.

“We also know the unconventional gas industry is wreaking havoc on Queensland’s underground water supplies, with the 2019 Underground water impact report (UWIR) for the Surat Basin showing more than 100 farming bores in the Surat Basin had been drained due to CSG, and predicting a further 500 would be drained if the industry expanded as expected.

“This is also a warning for people in NSW who are fighting Santos’ destructive CSG project planned for the Pilliga - clearly, you do not want CSG drilling near your farms.”

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