Lock the Gate Alliance has labelled the Queensland Environment Department and the Palaszczuk Government “utterly spineless” following the approval of Shell and PetroChina’s (Arrow Energy) application to drill 55 coal seam gas wells immediately surrounding the Linc Energy contamination site.
The decision, announced via press release at 4pm on a Friday, comes after media revealed the Palaszczuk Government covered up the discovery that contaminants including benzene and cyanide at levels above safe human drinking standards were detected in groundwater outside the original containment area.
It also comes after an internal government report found sufficient uncertainty around the contamination risk posed by coal seam gas drilling in the area.
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland coordinator Ellie Smith said the approval demonstrated how gas interests had totally captured the state.
“If ever there was a coal seam gas project that should have been rejected, it was this one,” she said.
“This is a clear example of the gas lobby winning at the expense of the health and safety of Queenslanders, especially the farmers in the Hopeland district who rely on groundwater.
“The government's own scientists raised concerns about coal seam gas drilling in this area causing contaminants to spread.
“The Environment Department has shown itself to be utterly spineless, firstly for approving Arrow’s application to drill 55 gaswells so close to the Linc site, and secondly for making the decision public at 4pm on a Friday.
“Any conditions attached to this project are unlikely to mitigate the risk of contaminants spreading in groundwater because once the damage is done, it can’t be undone.
“Arrow Energy also has a terrible track record obeying the law in Queensland, and was fined $1 million last year for illegally drilling directional gaswells beneath farmland without access agreements with the landholders.
“The Palaszczuk Government has once again demonstrated how eager it is to sacrifice Queensland farmland and the water that sustains it in order to appease multinational coal seam gas companies.”