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May 14, 2021

Office of CSG downplays Bentley water threat

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Looking back on the Bentley protectors' camp from Bungabee Road. Back Creek is close to the camp and the proposed gas mine. Photo Wayne Penn
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Hans Lovejoy

The NSW government’s new Office of Coal Seam Gas is refusing to answer how much public money is being spent assisting junior gas mining company Metgasco with its proposed drilling in Bentley near Lismore.

It was just one of a few questions raised by The Echo regarding the proposed Bentley mine after the recent NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) report into the Pilliga CSG operation. That report confirmed saline wastewater leached a number of heavy metals, including uranium, into two aquifers.

Additionally, Lock the Gate’s Carmel Flint said, ‘The report [into the Pilliga incident] reveals that the EPA did not conduct any independent sampling of their own, but relied entirely on data provided by the company they were investigating, Santos, and that the NSW Office of Water were effectively sidelined from the process. 170 million litres of toxic wastewater is now sitting above those two groundwater aquifers right now with no clear plan to clean it all up.’

Despite the damning EPA report, a media spokesperson instead replied with general statements regarding the legitimacy of Metgasco’s operation, citing various petroleum legislation, along with ‘over 300 conditions.’

But with only one sample of surface water movements being taken so far, there has been much public concern that testing was not comprehensive enough to ascertain the impact mining may have over all seasons.

The spokesperson said, ‘Richmond Valley Council is providing independent water bore sampling from local creeks and water monitoring bores subject to landholders’ agreement to allow access to their properties. Metgasco is paying for Council to independently oversee the water sampling, which is publicly available on their website.

‘Metgasco has in place an approved groundwater monitoring and modelling plan that was developed in consultation with the NSW Office of Water.’

No water production

‘However, as the Metgasco bore well is a gas well and not a coal seam gas well, water production is not expected.

‘Water safeguards include all waste water being captured in fit-for-purpose tanks with at least 20 per cent of the tank required to be left empty and management and transport safeguards in place.

‘This is an exploration core hole to remove a sample of the geological strata. It is not a pilot production gas well like the ones being operated in the Pilliga. Water produced in drilling a core hole is very very minor.’

The spokesperson declined to comment on whether they regarded the Pilliga contamination, the subsequent fine of $1,500 and the damning EPA report as responsible governance.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. If gas is so bad, why has Queensland been producing it for 45 years and will be producing it for the next 45 years? Why have over 4000 farmers signed up for it in Queensland? How are people from NSW going to heat their hot water and cook their dinner and their BBQs? Where is the destruction in Queensland from this? The fact is that this is a large green scare campaign against fossil fuels but people from the Greens continue to ride planes and drive cars. What hypocrites.

  2. Peter Peter Peter….. I agree, gas is a great fuel for cooking and hot water, but getting the gas out of the ground by fracking coal seams, is not the only way we get our gas, and fracking is a TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE WAY to get gas. Fracking not only uses a ridiculous amount of water, the chemicals used in the process contaminate all our underground water systems, and the long term consequence of that is catastrophic. I liken the CSG, ‘coal seam gas’ mining/fracking, to ‘selling your second kidney’ – you make some money, but you create a problem that can’t be fixed! (Politicians are either ignorant of the facts or don’t to see past the royalty cheque and their term in office, either way, in the end, if this continues…..we are all in BIG trouble. PS I am not a Greenie, but I would never sell my second kidney…would you?

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