Metgasco has rejected criticism of its plan to dump five million litres of wastewater into the Casino Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP).
But Lock the Gate Alliance Northern Rivers has demanded the state government close down Metgasco’s Casino operation altogether.
At a media conference held yesterday, Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson said there may be ‘beneficial uses’ for the contaminated water the company’s wells are producing.
‘The whole reason you go through an exploration program is to find out how much coal you’ve got, how it’s distributed, how much gas is in the coal, how fast the gas will produce and how much water you’re going to produce. Once you know how much water you’ve got and you know what the water quality is you can then decide on what you need to do to process it and what beneficial uses are available,’ he said.
Lock the Gate Alliance Northern Rivers said the EPA’s approval represented ‘a complete backflip from just a few weeks ago’.
At that time, in a letter to lawyers acting for the Alliance, the EPA stated that this disposal pathway was ‘inappropriate’ for CSG produced water.
‘One has to wonder why a practice that was inappropriate last month has suddenly been deemed to be acceptable,’ spokesperson Ian Gaillard said.
‘This latest development in the Metgasco wastewater fiasco further highlights the fact that the measures this company has in place to handle wastewater from just a handful of exploration wells are completely inadequate.
‘The state government is actively aiding and abetting the failings of industry and recklessly supporting the roll-out of the industry without any due regard for the consequences.
‘They should shut down the company’s activities in the region rather than giving them a get-out-of-jail-free card for their failed management practices.
‘This government backflip gives rise to serious concerns in the community about the strong links between Metgasco and local and state governments through their employment of a Richmond Valley councillor and a former high-ranking Liberal Party official,’ said Mr Gaillard.
‘The decision by Richmond Valley Council to take part in the wastewater dumping deal makes a mockery of the supposed moratorium on any new coal-seam gas activities on Council land put in place in May.
‘It seems that the ratepayers of the Richmond Valley are being left to clean up the Metgasco mess and they are not likely to forget this when voting at the council elections in September,’ he said.