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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Locals determined to fight CSG project in Pilliga forest

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On Tuesday morning this week, 15 locals targeted Santos contractor WildDesert and its workover rig in the Pilliga forest.

Members of the local community have vowed to interrupt any CSG activity that will further the development of the Santos’ proposed 850 well Narrabri Gas Project.

Earlier this year nearly 400 local people signed an open letter to Santos executive chairman Peter Coates pledging their commitment to actively oppose the project.

The WildDesert rigs and ancillary equipment were trucked into the forest late on Monday afternoon. Well-maintenance activity will be undertaken on Santos’ Dewhurst South CSG pilot project in the Pilliga, and the Tintsfield pilot on private land near Narrabri over coming weeks.

Workover maintenance is an essential process to maintain the ongoing functionality of CSG wells. According to the Santos November activity report, the current works are related to pump maintenance.

This work is an ongoing part of establishing the Narrabri Gas Project.

As members of the local community neighbouring the Pilliga forest we’re determined to protect the vital recharge area for the Great Artesian Basin that underlies the Pilliga from the serious risk posed by Santos’ 850 well CSG proposal.

The activities undertaken by these workover rigs indicate the ongoing risks inherent in the CSG industry. CSG wells require ongoing maintenance due to well casing corrosion or routine malfunction of pumps. The very necessity of this maintenance suggests that the ongoing integrity of CSG wells cannot be assured.

CSG wells have been shown to have a high rate of failure. This can allow drilling chemicals and toxic waters of the coal seam to cross contaminate precious underground aquifers like the Great Artesian Basin.

The open letter to Santos’ Peter Coates and signed by hundreds of North West landowners clearly stated: ‘We want you to understand in no uncertain terms: the Narrabri Gas project does not have a social license to proceed. If Santos, or any other company, does press on with this project it will be met with increased opposition from the community’.

Our communities of the North West region are utterly determined to protect our precious groundwater and biodiversity, our health, our soil and air from the unacceptable risks and impacts of the CSG industry.

Our protest on Tuesday was a tiny taste of what Santos can expect at every step in its efforts to establish in our region.

Brett Sanders, Coonabarabran (protest participant)



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