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Salty Santos wants to dump 61,500 bull elephants worth of coal seam gas waste in Western Sydney or the headwaters of the Murray-Darling

Santos faces likely insurmountable challenges to safely dispose of up to 430,500 tonnes of coal seam gas waste (roughly equal to the weight of 61,500 fully grown African bull elephants) that would be generated if its Pilliga (Narrabri) gasfield is built.

Santos’ waste management plan was recently uploaded to the NSW Government’s major project’s website. It identifies three sites Santos has suggested for the disposal of the massive amount of waste its planned gasfield would create.

They are:

  • WeKando, Chinchilla, Queensland (on the banks of a tributary of the Murray-Darling)

  • A landfill facility at Kemps Creek in Western Sydney 

  • A landfill facility at Jackson, Queensland (500km from Narrabri)

The extraction of coal seam gas generates large volumes of water contaminated with salt and heavy metals. 

The Queensland coal seam gas industry recently came under fire for having no solution to address its waste problem, despite thousands of gas wells having already been drilled across the state.

Lock the Gate Campaign Coordinator Carmel Flint said, “Trucking hazardous coal seam gas waste thousands of kilometres and burying it underground is a terrible and risky idea. 

“Santos shouldn’t be allowed to turn either Western Sydney or regional Queensland into their dumping ground. Santos’ waste management plan is simply to offload their responsibilities and land their waste on others to deal with. 

“This type of waste represents a serious environmental risk and, if buried, would have to be managed in perpetuity to prevent it being released into groundwater or surface water. 

“The approval for the Narrabri Gas Project requires Santos to ‘maximise beneficial reuse’ of salt waste from their gasfield, but here they are already scoping out a contract to dump more than half of it in landfill. 

“The site at Kemps Ck appears to have had problems with flooding in the past and one of the Queensland sites is just a short distance from a creek that flows to the Condamine River. 

“We estimate that moving this amount of waste would require 47 truckloads per month that would collectively travel 50,000km.  So not only is it a dangerous idea, but it will increase greenhouse gas emissions from transporting the waste as well."

Third-generation cattle farmer Glen Beasley lives near the WeKando waste facility near Chinchilla in southern Queensland, one of the proposed landfill sites where the Narrabri gasfield’s waste could be sent. The waste facility is just 100 metres from Stockyard Creek, in the headwaters of the Murray-Darling Basin.

He said he was worried about the potential impacts on the local water catchment from Santos’ salt waste.

“The possibility of contamination from leakage from landfill into the local water table is serious," Mr Beasley said.

“Salt is not benign, it’s a potential contaminant.

“Successive governments have failed to adequately deal with this corrosive industry that contributes very little to Australia, the Australian public, and places a lot at risk.”


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