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End of Coal in SA – will it be a Solar Future for SA?

Pt. Augusta Power Station – End of SA Coal Era

InDaily Monday, May 9, Bension Siebert, excerpts

The coal era has ended in South Australia this morning with the closure of Alinta’s Northern power station in Port Augusta.

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said it was a “sad day” but the Port Augusta plant was based on outdated technology. He said cheap renewable energy had made Port Augusta’s coal-fired power station unprofitable.

Employment Minister Minister Kyam Maher told reporters this morning that there were good jobs prospects in Port Augusta in clean energy generation. He said the Government had spent $6 million aiding the transition of Port Augusta from “old technologies to new technologies”. “We have Sundrop Farms with 23,850 reflective mirrors [that reflect] the sun to a 15 metre high solar thermal collection tower to power 20 hectares of greenhouses to grow tomatoes,” he said “This will provide up to 150 jobs.”

Opposition Mineral Resources and Energy spokesperson Dan Van Holst Pellekaan urged the Government to announce its position on a solar thermal plant proposed for Port Augusta – which proponents argue would create up to 1000 temporary and 50 permanent jobs in the city.

Greens SA Senator Robert Simms said the construction of a solar thermal plant in Port Augusta could “create 1000 construction jobs in a region where they are badly needed”.

Renew Economy

South Australia is expected to reach 50 per cent renewable energy generation by the end of the year – the highest penetration of “variable” renewables such as wind and solar in the world for a significant-sized grid. And yet Adelaide buses display on their sides,” Natural Gas Clean and Green”.

More information at http://www.repowerportaugusta.org/

ps on sun

Beach Energy’s containment ponds at risk of overflooding

Beach energy, DMITRE & the Minister for Mining have repeatedly assured the community that the drilling of the two exploration wells near Penola has been to “world’s best practice” and that the existing regulatory process would prevent groundwater contamination.

It now appears that the two containment ponds used to store the waste water and potentially toxic material from the drilling process are at risk of overflowing.   Beach Energy revealed this in their recent application to Wattle Range Council to store this waste water at the Katnook Gas Plant on Argyle Road, Monbulla.

Beach Energy said “Due to time of year, the drill sump contents associated with some of these wells has not yet evaporated and given current and predicted rainfall rates, it was considered a risk to keep the drilling sump waste water in situ. To avoid overtopping, Beach energy acquired EPA Emergency Authorisation 45682 to enable Katnook (Gas Plant on Argyle Road) to receive and temporarily store up to 1ML (1 million litres)  of drilling sump wastewater from the Bungallo-1 and Jolly-1 exploratory drilling well sumps.”

That the ponds would now appear inadequate within months of completion of drilling shows that no proper consideration was given to building these containment ponds. It is a relatively trivial process to model the required size of a containment pond using rainfall and evaporation data, of which at least 70 years is available for Mount Gambier.

Limestone Coast general practitioner Dr Catherine Pye, spokesperson for LCPA, says that the failure of Beach Energy to ensure that the containment ponds were adequate is a gross oversight that puts our soil and groundwater at risk of contamination by potentially highly salty water and potentially toxic chemicals. “Surely this casts huge doubt on the regulatory process itself, and on Beach Energy’s commitment to ensure its operations would not cause soil and ground water contamination” said Dr Pye.

“There are many unanswered questions about this whole process that raise concerns in the regulation process.  I believe there should be a complete halt of any further drilling activities in the Limestone Coast until the apparent failure of process is subject of an independent enquiry. Otherwise the community can have zero confidence that our water and health are safe.”Gas1

Dubious claims don’t fool LCPA

MINING companies like to tar everyone objecting to proposed unconventional gas developments in the Lower and Mid South East as “greenies and professional activists”, according to chairman of the Limestone Coast Protection Alliance Will Legoe.

But the sheep and cattle producer and grapegrower says the membership of his organisation – which held its first meeting in November with 11 members – tells a different story.

“We now have 270 members, with 50 per cent of them farmers,” he said.

“And it’s growing every day, mainly through word-of-mouth, although we did attend the (SE) field days.”

Legoe says when people ring him, all he can do is point them to the relevant websites and documentaries.

“People in the region are mostly very conservative – but not on this issue,” he said.

“And they come from all walks of life – a big cross-section.

“They become more educated about the issues and build their knowledge, and this has added to the groundswell of support (for LCPA).”

Legoe had attended Beach Energy information sessions and others organised independently to discuss the possible impacts of unconventional gas mining.

He became concerned and decided to become active in the debate after assessing the ‘evidence’ presented and possible ramifications of developments.

“I have to shake my head when Beach Energy says we are ignoring the science – there is plenty of science saying the opposite (to the company),” Legoe said.

“The possibility of water contamination is a primary cause of concern, but there would be huge lifestyle and social pressures.”

If the March state election had been 12 to 18 months later, Legoe believes the notice of motions carried by SELGA calling for a moratorium on unconventional gas mining would have had more sway on politicians.

“I certainly hope we can still have some influence (on SE politicians) as our numbers grow,” he said.

* Full report in Stock Journal, July 3, 2014 issue.

South East Councils push for caution and strict controls on gas developments!

The South East Local Government Association (SELGA) moved several motions at its meeting on Friday, urging State and Federal governments to take note of community concerns over issues associated with exploration and production of unconventional gas.

Currently there is exploration activity in the South East for reserves of tight gas and shale gas to determine the potential for commercial extraction.
According to SELGA President, Mayor Richard Vickery, “While Local Government has no powers in relation to approval of unconventional gas projects, it is important we consider the issues involved and reflect any concerns to State and Federal ministers. In particular, SELGA can advocate for scientific investigations and decision making that takes into account the specific needs of the South East.”

At the SELGA meeting in Naracoorte, delegates resolved to seek scientific information from the Federal Government’s “Independent Expert Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Mining Development” on the possible impact of tight gas and shale gas exploration and development on the vital water resources of the Limestone Coast.

SELGA delegates also called on the Federal Government to amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to include “tight gas” and “shale gas” under the definition of mining activities where water resources are deemed to be “of national environmental significance”.
In addition, SELGA voted to have the State Government require shale gas, tight gas and geothermal developers obtain a water allocation before extracting water from underground aquifers, to ensure consistency for all water-using industries in the region.

Further, the delegates called for legislative changes by the State Government to require exclusion zones around towns, tourism regions and private dwellings for gas and geothermal developments, and to require landholder approval before entering land for gas or geothermal exploration and production.

To ensure an ongoing dialogue on the issue, SELGA resolved to establish a State and Local Government taskforce to examine all relevant research, community engagement and legislative matters relating to the impact of mining activity in the South East.
Finally the meeting supported a moratorium on unconventional gas extraction in the region until such time as independent analysis is undertaken, and the requests made to the State and Federal Governments have been addressed.

“The debate on these issues was complex and spirited,” said Mayor Vickery, “but I believe we’ve covered the main issues raised by the community and arrived at some sensible resolutions to guide industry and governments.”

 

Click here to read full SELGA Media Release on Unconventional Gas 140614

 

Watch the Channel 7 news article video

Third Report in Three Days Shows Scale of Fracking Perils

‘We can conclude that this process has not been shown to be safe’

– Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

March 2013 Annapolis, Maryland rally against fracking (Flickr / Maryland Sierra Club / Creative Commons license)The fracking industry is having a bad week.

In the third asssessment in as many days focused on the pollution created by the booming industry, a group of researchers said Wednesday that the controversial oil and gas drilling practice known as fracking likely produces public health risks and “elevated levels of toxic compounds in the environment” in nearly all stages of the process.

The latest research, conducted by the Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy, compiled “the first systematic literature review” of peer-reviewed studies on the effects of fracking on public health and found the majority of research points to dangerous risks to public health, with many opportunities for toxic exposure.

“It’s clear that the closer you are [to a fracking site], the more elevated your risk,” said lead author Seth Shonkoff, from the University of California-Berkeley. “We can conclude that this process has not been shown to be safe.”

According to the “near exhaustive review” of fracking research, environmental pollution is found “in a number of places and through multiple processes in the lifecycle of shale gas development,” the report states. “These sources include the shale gas production and processing activities (i.e., drilling, hydraulic fracturing, hydrocarbon processing and production, wastewater disposal phases of development); the transmission and distribution of the gas to market (i.e., in transmission lines and distribution pipes); and the transportation of water, sand, chemicals, and wastewater before, during, and after hydraulic fracturing.”

Citing the recent research, the report continues:

Shale gas development uses organic and inorganic chemicals known to be health damaging in fracturing fluids (Aminto and Olson 2012; US HOR 2011). These fluids can move through the environment and come into contact with humans in a number of ways, including surface leaks, spills, releases from holding tanks, poor well construction, leaks and accidents during transportation of fluids, flowback and produced water to and from the well pad, and in the form of run-off during blowouts, storms, and flooding events (Rozell and Reaven 2012). Further, the mixing of these compounds under conditions of high pressure, and often, high heat, may synergistically create additional, potentially toxic compounds (Kortenkamp et al. 2007; Teuschler and Hertzberg 1995; Wilkinson 2000). Compounds found in these mixtures may pose risks to the environment and to public health through numerous environmental pathways, including water, air, and soil (Leenheer et al. 1982). […]

At certain concentrations or doses, more than 75% of the chemicals identified are known to negatively impact the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, and the liver; 52% have the potential to negatively affect the nervous system; and 37% of the chemicals are candidate endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The group also warns that while numerous studies have proven the alarming and destructive nature of fracking, there is still not nearly enough research on the issue, particularly on the long-term effects of fracking on public health, such as future cancer rates.

“Most importantly,” say the authors, “there is a need for more epidemiological studies to assess associations between risk factors, such as air and water pollution and health outcomes among populations living in close proximity to shale gas operations.”

The review follows on the heels of two other reviews on the dangers of fracking released earlier this week.

The first report, a scientific study released Monday, found that methane emissions from fracking could be up to 1000 times greater than what the EPA has estimated. Methane is up to 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

The second report, a review conducted by Bloomberg News on Wednesday, detailed how industrial waste from fracking sites is leaving a “legacy of radioactivity” and other toxic problems across the country and spawning a “surge” in illegal dumping at hundreds of sites in the U.S.

Click here to read the original article

 

Smell concerns local landholder and his cattle

A cattle farmer near Penola, in South Australia’s south east, is worried about a strong odour he says is coming from the mud waste of a nearby drilling project.

Click here to listen to the ABC radio interview

Beach Energy is looking for shale gas in the area, drilling up to four kilometres below the surface.

But Neil Copping, whose fenceline is 60 metres from the drill, is concerned about the effect the strong ‘rotten eggs’ smell could have on his livestock.

“My cattle are smart enough to stay away from it. When the wind is that way, they seem to be nowhere in the sulphur smell area, they seem to move up to the other end of the farm.

“So as far our concerns go, yes I do wonder if there is danger for animals and obviously for human health.”

South Australia’s Department of Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy has investigated the alleged rotten egg odour at this well site, and has advised that no hydrogen sulphide releases, above normal operating levels at this site, have been detected.

penolasign

Landline – MUST WATCH video

Watch the Landline Segment here

landline

PIP COURTNEY, PRESENTER: One issue that seems to polarise farming communities more than most others is coal seam gas. An economic saviour to some, others fear the long-term damage the industry could do to underground water supplies. The latest front in this ongoing battle is South Australia, with a proposal to drill exploration wells near prime agricultural land in the state’s south-east. More from Leah MacLennan.

LEAH MACLENNAN, REPORTER: Over the past five years, anti-coal seam gas demonstrations have mostly been restricted to Queensland and NSW.

But the protests are now spilling over the border into SA. These farmers and environmentalists are trying to stop gas exploration in the state’s south-east.

Beach Energy is putting down test drills near Penola. If it finds gas, the company may have to extract it using hydraulic fracturing – fracking – a technique that uses a pressurised mixture of sand, water and chemicals to tap into underground gas reserves.

REG NELSON, BEACH ENERGY: Well first of all fracking is a term we don’t use because it encompasses so many different things. It’s a process that’s been around since the 1890s, but, as I say, it covers so many things and it’s evolved in so many different ways. What we’re looking to do, possibly, is to apply very precise fracture stimulation to the deep rocks at probably four kilometres depth.

LEAH MACLENNAN: If this so-called unconventional gas extraction goes ahead, it will be the first time the technique has been used in an agricultural area in SA, and that’s angered some of the locals.

Over the last six years, Anne Daw has gone from south-east landowner to anti-mining lobbyist.

ANNE DAW, ANTI-MINING CAMPAIGNER: We only have 4.6 per cent agricultural prime land and cropping land left in the whole state outside of pastoral areas and that is not much to ask to be preserved and exempt from mining petroleum and unconventional gas.

LEAH MACLENNAN: The protest movement has drawn the attention of non-Government MPs in the South Australian Parliament, who are pushing for new laws to restrict fracking and mining in agricultural areas.

ROBERT BROKENSHIRE, SA FAMILY FIRST MP: And we need to address it before we lose our best agricultural land. Some say the Mining Act is balanced; I say that the Mining Act is in favour of mining and makes it difficult for farmers. I’m arguing that in the state’s interests, you know, we – Family First are not anti-mining, but we say there are places where you can mine and places where you should be able to unquestionably proceed with farming.

LEAH MACLENNAN: But the State Government isn’t interested. It argues there are sufficient safeguards overseen by the Environment, Resources and Development, or ERD, Court.

TOM KOUTSANTONIS, SA MINISTER FOR MINERAL RESOURCES: Prime agricultural land is exempt from the Mining Act, but people can, if they find resources, go to the ERD Court and have that, of course, overturned. And that’s right, and that’s the right thing to do because you can have multiple land use principles that do show that mining and farming can co-exist.

LEAH MACLENNAN: That’s of little comfort to people like Jack England, a third-generation farmer near Kingston, and he’s the vice-chair of Livestock SA.

JACK ENGLAND, LIVESTOCK SA: Some farmers will probably want to sell out and they’re quite pro-mining and there are others that are against it. So we have to be careful that we represent the interests of all farmers, make sure all the drilling, if it goes ahead, is Mickey Mouse and they do the right thing in terms of biosecurity, sort of equity for farms and that sort of thing.

LEAH MACLENNAN: The biggest concern for farmers is the potential impact of deep drilling, mining and hydraulic fracturing on aquifers.

JACK ENGLAND: The best thing about the south-east down here is we can drill a hole, dig a hole and we either have a well or into the sub-Artesian Basin and we’ve got water for our livestock and/or irrigation and the wine crops as well. So that’s the most stable resource that we’ve got down here and we certainly want to protect it as much as possible.

LEAH MACLENNAN: Any threat to aquifers is of great concern to the local wine industry.

DENNIS VICE, HIGHBANK WINES: We know for a fact that there are three aquifers. We’re actually standing just a matter of a few feet above the first aquifer and it’s a very unique situation in vineyard areas around the country.

LEAH MACLENNAN: Dennis Vice makes organic wine from his vineyards in Coonawarra and he’s deeply worried about Beach Energy’s exploration drills.

DENNIS VICE: Beach conducted a local meeting here and invited everyone to come along to kind of put their position forward, and I think from then on people began to realise that it was a reality, that they were really seriously going to do exploratory wells and put wells down through the aquifers, trying again to use the fracking technique to be able to extract gas from these wells that are tremendously deep.

LEAH MACLENNAN: Because the wells will go through aquifers, locals want to make sure there’s no leaking or contamination.

REG NELSON: What we will do, and this is part of our normal practice, is to drill and case those aquifers so that they’re entirely separated before we drill and possibly encounter any gas. Now I say this because people have drilled there and we have drilled there for so-called conventional gas and made gas discoveries and there’s been no detriment.

LEAH MACLENNAN: This is not the first time there’s been mineral exploration in the region.

Debbie Nulty’s farm adjoins Anne Daw’s property. In the early 1980s, Western Mining explored this area for brown coal. The pair say this old drill well is an example of what can go wrong.

DEBBIE NULTY, FARMER: We noticed that it was falling away from the side and we were concerned about the aquifer.

LEAH MACLENNAN: Beach Energy says it wouldn’t leave its wells in such a state, using this photo as an example of one of their rehabilitated drill holes.

REG NELSON: I’ve been farming most of my life in various areas, presently broadacre cropping. I’ve lived in rural communities, I empathise with rural communities. I believe in the Golden Rule, you know: do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.

LEAH MACLENNAN: Initially the Nultys were told they would have to rehabilitate the well themselves, and if they didn’t, they could face a $15,000 fine.

And how much would it have cost you to rehabilitate yourself?

DEBBIE NULTY: I’m not sure about the costs because in my mind it wasn’t my drill hole and I really hadn’t even thought that I was ever going to fix the drill hole. It would have been – I would have, yes, yelled from the treetops before I would have fixed it, basically.

LEAH MACLENNAN: After long negotiations, the Government agreed to fix the dilapidated well.

It’s a small victory for Debbie Nulty and for Anne Daw, but these two women are fighting a much longer battle: trying to stop mining on agricultural land altogether.

Doctors won’t know long-term health effects of unconventional drilling – says GP

citizenslockthegate

Following her interview on 5THE FM on Friday 21st February, Dr Catherine Pye addressed the meeting arranged by Millicent Field Naturalist Society and the Limestone Coast Strike Out Alliance, in Millicent.  Dr Pye has lived in Mt Gambier for 23 years, has been a GP for 16 years  and a Locum for 17 years, and is actively involved in advocacy for health. She said she is concerned that doctors will not   know what the long-term health effects of unconventional drilling will be with in the community.

Rosie Pounsett from Millicent Field Nats welcomed 60 members of the community attending the meeting which was held to create awareness about unconventional drilling. Charmaine Taylor Symes, business owner from Penola, said in describing the film;  it is an Australian Film,  what happened to Australians and  said,” I believe that this film is – rather than being overstated, it is understated, in describing the adverse affects unconventional drilling can have on a community both economically and on their health.”

Millicent Alliance Film Night 4

The film ‘A Fractured County  ‘ – An Unconventional Invasion was screened and questions were welcomed from the floor. The film featured Australians whose lives and health has been affected for ever.  Creek water igniting, tap water igniting, children’s nose bleeds, and children’s skin chemical burns from bath water were among some of the adverse affects shown.

Dr Pye said:- “We need a healthy environment,  and healthy water for our communities to be healthy overall and anything that could endanger  these seriously concerns me,” she said.  “I understand that the whole of the lower South East of SA is covered by an exploration licence. They have drilled south of Penola and will soon drill north/west of Penola. These are test wells, not fracking, but they drill down through our aquifers to a depth of about four kilometers and I am concerned about the integrity of the well. If this fails it can release chemicals into the aquifers.”

Dr Pye said, “if they go ahead the landscape will change considerably. A shale gas field is a vast network of oil pads, roads, pipes, compressor stations and flair pits. Wells can be just five kilometres apart and if there are hundreds or thousands of wells across the South East it will devastate the landscape.” When asked about our farmers and their rights, Dr Pye said, ” Farmers have no rights, they can say they don’t want drilling but ultimately the farmer has no rights in South Australia.” “Fracking is a process that involves forcing chemicals underground and this is not the only concern, it is the chemicals that are released from underground too,” she said.

Each drill hole uses up to 14,7000,000 litres of water and 56,800 litres of chemicals and proppants are used. The same chemicals are used for fracking shale and for coal. In a report from the United States it was reported that 944 products are used to frack, 633 of them are chemicals. Three quarters of these could affect eyes, skin, kidneys, brain and a quarter of them could cause cancer.
In Australia there are about 60 chemicals used and Dr Pye said as a doctor she is concerned about what they are.

“Chemicals used in fracking have to be disclosed in Western Australia but not in South Australia, and as doctors we need to know what is being used and potentially what patients may have been
exposed to when they present at our surgeries and emergency departments.” “Reports from Wyoming show household water is now black and can’t be used. Drinking water has to be trucked in for the whole town.” “In Queensland symptoms appearing  include nose bleeds, headaches and school problems.”

“The Robe Council is supporting a moratorium and we hope that all councils in the South East will do the same,” she said.

Millicent Alliance Film Night 6

Dr Pye has a special interest in mental health and said a recent paper by a psychologist in the Hunter Valley, where fracking is taking place, says that the uncertainty and stress alone can have an effect on mental health. “I am a strong believer in community and health is a big part of that,” she said. Fracking is a term used to describe the fracturing of underground rock formations with horizontal drilling. This
process is not an old process with years of research to show if it is a safe procedure; it is relatively new, only being used since 2007 in cluster drills. The horizontal  drills have high volume, high pressure water and chemicals forced underground to fracture the rock. Loss of well integrity allows the escape of methane and volatile organic compounds such as benzine (a carcinogen) to escape into the aquifers or air.

It has been reported that particles of chemicals used in this process can travel through the air, landing on roofs, polluting the air and water in communities during the disposal process of the water after the drilling process. Additional concerns about the drilling process are;- heavy machinery traffic, flaring, well integrity failure,  24 hour noise, collapse of the holding ponds releasing toxic overflow into land
and water ways, devaluation of farms and homes, devaluation of houses, escalation of rentals prices making rentals out of the reach of local communities. Most employees in the drilling industry are
fly in fly out and so money is not often spent in the local community.

‘In the Beach Energy Environmental Impact Report, Beach proposes to burn any excess hydrocarbons in a vertical flare. The burning off of gas from a new well releases Hydrogen sulphide, methane and
btex chemicals (benzine, toluene, ethylbezine, xylene) into the air, as well as mercury, arsenic, and chromium. The USA banned flaring after January 2015.’(provided by the Dr Pye  encourages communities to contact their councils and ask for a four year moratorium on unconventional drilling, to allow time for further research into the safety of this process. Landholders were encouraged to put ‘Lock the Gate’ signs on their gates as a peaceful non-cooperation that shows companies and the government that landholders are determined to protect their land, water and health from inappropriate mining.

One of the concerned people attending the meeting,  Barbara Cameron of Beachport  said, ” Good planets are hard to find, we need to protect the one we have. If our water supply is damaged and we
don’t have water – we have nothing.”

Two closed meetings are arranged for March 11th with Wattle Range Council in Millicent and SELGA in Penola. Representatives from Beach Energy, DMITRE, DEWNR, Anne Daw, and Dr Gavin Mudd will be in attendance at both meetings. There will be no health representation at the SELGA meeting, but there will be at the Wattle Range meeting.
Click here to view the film The Fractured Country

Millicent Alliance Film Night 5  Millicent Alliance Film Night 3 Millicent Alliance Film Night 2

 

Movie Review – Gasland

Water bursting into flames, people felled by mysterious afflictions, corporate malfeasance: Josh Fox’s GasLand is neither a horror film nor a paranoid thriller, but it’s one of the scariest movies of the year. A low-budget, first person independent documentary, the movie is about the allegedly extensive and officially ignored environmental impact felt across a swathe of middle America following the drilling and extraction of natural gas reserves. It will make you think twice about basic fundamentals we take for granted, and remind you how persuasive the cinema can be.

Watch the trailer for the GasLand movie on the SBS website

gaslandmovietrailer

Part One of GasLand on youtube

Part Two of GasLand on youtube

See the followup to GasLands…. ‘the sky is pink’

 

The Sky Is Pink – 6% of well casings fail IN THE FIRST YEAR!

The Sky is Pink Video – follow up to GasLands movie

6% of well casings fail in the first year… allowing gas to contaminate the aquifer. These casings need to last FOREVER, yet they start failing from the very get go.

Watch the original GasLands movie