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Political support for Solar Thermal Power Station in Port Augusta

At the National Press Club meeting in May the Repower Port Augusta Campaign asked whether South Australians could rely on both major parties to deliver solar thermal in Port Augusta.

In response :

Liberal Minister for Environment Greg Hunt: “In our case, yes, we set out when we laid out the Clean Energy Innovation Fund that our No.1 priority in Australia would be a solar thermal plant in Port Augusta”.

Labor Opposition spokesperson for Environment Mark Butler: “We have dedicated $200 million to a targeted round of grant funding for concentrated solar thermal. That will be a competitive round, run by ARENA but the Port Augusta community has been at the forefront of developing plans and allocating land to that sort of project. It is at the front of the queue.”

This bi-partisan support is timely, given that just last month the Port Augusta coal-burning power stations switched off for the last time. The people of Port Augusta need this project fast tracked.

Please note Nick Xenophon and The Greens are also committed to a Solar Thermal Power Station in Port Augusta.

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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Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said it was a “sad day” but the Port Augusta plant was based on outdated technology.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/

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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

Government Emissions from Gas Mining

This website has data from the 2011/2012 financial year regarding the emissions produced and reported by gas mining around the country.

http://www.npi.gov.au/npi-data/search-npi-data

Takes you to a web page where you can search by Industry.

Select Mining then Oil & Gas Extraction.

Click on View Data. Then click on the Emissions Tab

npi

You will then see the full list of chemicals. A scary long list of chemicals.

View the Full List of Chemicals Here

 

 

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

 

Fracking Emissions Up To 1000x Higher Than EPA Estimates

Study: Fracking Emissions Up To 1000x Higher Than EPA Estimates

New report suggests highly potent greenhouse gas far more prevalent in gas production than previously thought

– Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Marcellus Shale Gas Well, Lawrence County, Penn. (Flickr / WCN247 / Creative Commons license) Natural gas drilling is emitting far higher levels of methane into the atmosphere than federal regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency have said, according to the findings of a new study released Monday.

“We identified a significant regional flux of methane over a large area of shale gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania in the Marcellus formation and further identified several pads with high methane emissions,” said the report, conducted by a team of scientists led by Purdue University and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While past EPA studies have said gas well sites emit as little as between 0.04 and 0.30 grams of methane per second, this new study found numbers between 100 to 1,000 times higher than what the EPA has calculated, with levels closer to 34 grams of methane per second at some of the Pennsylvania sites. Methane is up to 30 times stronger than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

Of particular curiosity for the research team was the fact that the highest levels of methane were coming from well sites that were being preliminarily drilled for production, but had not yet gone through the controversial gas production process known as fracking.

“The methane emissions from the gas wells … are surprisingly high considering that all of these wells were still being drilled, had not yet been hydraulically fractured, and were not yet in production,” the paper reports.

“Methane plumes might be the result of drilling through coal beds,” said the study, “which are known to release large amounts of methane when mined. Fracking sites in the Marcellus Shale formation are commonly located over coal beds.”

As the Los Angeles Times reports, Monday’s findings add to “a growing body of research that suggests the EPA is gravely underestimating methane emissions from oil and gas operations.” The EPA’s research has largely been subject to the whims of the industry, the researchers noted, which has a say over where and when the agency has access to drilling sites. Monday’s Purdue report, on the other hand, used a plane equipped with technology to measure greenhouse gas levels in the air above the sites.

Meanwhile, the EPA released its own new set of methane information on Tuesday with a series of technical white papers detailing the sources of methane emissions in the oil and gas industry. The agency also opened a public comment period, which will be used—alongside peer reviewed input—”to determine how to best pursue additional reductions from these sources.”

The EPA said the white papers, which detail five main sources of methane leakage in the fossil fuel industry—natural gas compressors, hydraulic fracturing for oil, natural gas production, removing liquids in gas wells and pneumatic devices used in the gas industry—are designed to help the agency “solidify [its] understanding of certain sources of methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the oil and natural gas industry.”

Read the full article here

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.

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Flyover of the Surat Basin Qld Gas Fields

Click here to watch video of the Gas Fields in QLD

Video footage taken during a helicopter fly-over of gas gathering systems in the Surat Basin (which is inland from Brisbane QLD).

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