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Shell’s CSG spill should warrant more than a $60,000 fine

Lock the Gate Alliance has labelled a $60,000 fine handed to a multinational coal seam gas company that dumped more than one million litres of wastewater on surrounding land as little more than a “slap on the wrist”.

The fine was given to Shell QGC in the Dalby Magistrates Court today and no conviction was recorded after the Department of Environment and Science found the company had released 1.1 million litres of coal seam gas water from a pump station on the Western Downs onto the surrounding land without authorisation.

“Shell would spend more than $60,000 at a company lunch - this fine is a joke. It will do nothing to deter giant coal seam gas companies like Shell from polluting Queensland in the future,” Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said.

“The maximum penalty for this kind of behaviour is more than ten times what Shell received - $620,325 - much more fitting for a company of its size.

"This is a worst nightmare for landholders living near gas infrastructure. The salt and chemicals in CSG water can be catastrophic for productive soils.

“Sadly, it’s likely more pollution events and spills will occur as the coal seam gas industry expands across southern and central Queensland, with more than double the roughly 10,000 existing CSG wells expected to be drilled by 2050 on the Western Downs alone (source: Queensland Gasfield Commission).

“Certainly this will be the case if coal seam gas companies continue to receive minute fines for contamination events.

“The unrestricted expansion of the CSG industry will not only increase the risk of contamination events, but will dramatically drain the aquifers that our agriculture industries rely on.”


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