The threat of coal-seam gas (CSG) mining on the north coast continues to draw big crowds to public meetings, with more than 350 Ballina locals attending one this week.
Ballina Greens Cr Jeff Johnson said it was obvious from the large attendance at the Ballina RSL Club on Tuesday night that there was a lot of concern about the threat that CSG mining posed to the region.
Cr Johnson told Echonetdaily that the meeting heard of the plans to turn the northern rivers into a gas field with the possibility of an offshore processing facility off the coast of Ballina.
He told the meeting that Arrow Energy held the rights to a petroleum exploration licence (PEL) covering the entire Ballina Shire and that ‘if you own property in the Ballina Shire, then your land is at risk’.
He said major concerns raised at the meeting included: potential impacts on the aquifers below the Alstonville/Wollongbar Plateau, the threat to rural communities and farmland, a drop in property values, property rights, the impacts of millions of litres of waste water being discharged into the Richmond River, the chemicals used in the process and the large amount of salt.
‘The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has already given approval for Metgasco to dump more than four million litres of waste water into the Richmond River, and this is only the testing phase,’ he said.
‘It is estimated that 1,000 wells – and there are plans for lots more – will produce over 15,000 tonnes of salt per year and over five gigalitres of waste water.
‘I have great concerns about the impact that CSG mining is already having, let alone what the mining companies have planned for our beautiful region.’
Speakers at the meeting included Sue Higginson, a senior solicitor with the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO); Dr Marian Lloyd-Smith, from the National Toxics Network; Dr Wayne Somerville, a consulting psychologist; and Lock the Gate Northern Rivers members Ian Gaillard and Boudicca Cerese.
Image: Ian Gaillard, Boudicca Cerese, Dr Wayne Sommerville, Dr Marian Lloyd-Smith (seated) and Cr Jeff Johnson after the CSG meeting this week.