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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Aussie CSG miner unleashed ‘mud volcano’

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John Watson, Jeremy Buckingham and Penny Blatchford at the Lapindo mud volcano disaster where ten metres of mud has displaced 50,000 people after gas exploration drilling went terribly wrong. Photo courtesy Jeremy Buckingham

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham is returning to the northern rivers to present his ‘Frack Finding Tour’ of overseas coal seam gas operations at Ocean Shores and Kingscliff later this month.

Since his presentation at Mullumbimby last year, Mr Buckingham has visited Indonesia where he saw firsthand the risks posed by fracking in the form of the largest mud volcano in the world that was caused by the blowout of a gas well in East Java.

The Sidoarjo mudflow was caused by drilling operation misconduct and has since inundated entire villages, schools and roads, spewing up to 180,000m³ of mud per day.

A consortium, 18 per cent owned by Australian company Santos, is thought to have caused a mud volcano to explode through exploratory drilling for gas south of the city of Surabaya. The mud volcano was set off in 2006 and has now covered 1,000 hectares, covering 16 villages and displacing 50,000 people.

Mr Buckingham visited the area in early August with a group of Australian farmers from northwest NSW, who are concerned about the consequences of coal seam gas drilling in their region.

‘Gas drilling setting off a mud volcano is an extreme example of what can go wrong, but it does provide a warning about the many unknowns associated with geology and hydrology and the need to be cautious,’ said Mr Buckingham.

‘I met with local Indonesians whose three-storey houses, schools, rice paddies and mosques are all totally buried under sulphurous mud. The mud has already broken through one levy bank and is currently 10.8 metres deep.

‘At a university in Malang, South Java, we received a lecture from academics who are studying the cause of the disaster. They theorise that drilling for gas caused a connection with hot and high-pressure water, which has then fractured the earth to the surface where mud continues to flow out seven years later.

‘The compensation has been inadequate for locals with Santos selling out of the consortium two years after the disaster.

‘The Indonesian government and local people are now shouldering the burden of this disaster, desperately dredging the mud and pumping it into the Porong River.

‘The Indonesians displaced by the mud volcano have erected an effigy of the corporate men they hold responsible for this disaster, but the Australian company has long since departed,’ he said.

‘I’m keen to share with the people of the northern rivers the dramatic scenes I witnessed and hope they can attend to watch the videos we took of a mature unconventional gas industry and demonstrate the risks this industry can pose for communities,’ said Mr Buckingham.

Mr Buckingham will also show images and video footage illustrating the impact of the unconventional gas industry in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania.

‘My tour of the United States highlighted the dangers of coal seam gas and provides a graphic warning to Australia not to risk this toxic industry that threatens to dominate the landscape,’ said Mr Buckingham.

Ocean Shores Community Centre: 6–7pm, Friday 30 August.
Kingscliff Community Hall: 11.30am–12.30pm, Saturday 31 August.


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