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Santos CSG wastewater to top 1 million litres a day

Santos CSG wastewater to top 1 million litres a day – with nowhere to go

Sydney Morning Herald reports on Date March 28, by Peter Hannam

Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald

Santos Energy is seeking approval for a new waste treatment plant at its controversial pilot coal seam gas field in northern NSW without identifying how it will dispose of the briny and potentially toxic end product.

The Santos venture at Narrabri, which has already cost the company about $1.2 billion, was drawn into the state election campaign when Opposition Leader Luke Foley declared a Labor government would not allow the gas field’s exploration licence to be converted to a production licence if it won office.

The issue of CSG may prove key in several electorates on Saturday, including in Barwon in which the Santos field sits, with several long-standing Nationals candidates facing big swings against them for supporting the industry.  Read more at www.protectlimestonecoast.org.au/santos-csg-wastewater-to-top-1-million-litres-a-day/

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.

Overwhelming proof that fracking contaminates water

We’ve seen it before (like in Gasland Part II), scientific evidence proves that drilling and fracking contaminated ground water, but then the industry swoops in with their misinformation campaigns and pressure on regulatory agencies, and suddenly there’s a new set of “facts” to debate.

Our video of the week shows that the Lispky family is still living deep in Gasland, where fracking science denial déjà vu has unfortunately become the way of life.

Watch our Video – Scientists: Tests prove fracking to blame for flaming Parker County wells by News 8’s Brett Shipp

We reported on Steve and Shyla Lipsky’s case in Gasland Part II, and the industry responded with vicious and personal attacks against the facts and the Lipsky family.

In our Video, Brett Shipp reports that the science proves not only do the Lipsky’s have dangerous levels of methane in their water, but also that an isotopic analysis proves the gas in Lipsky’s well is an almost identical match to the gas being drilled for in the area.

The scientists interviewed say these tests prove that fracking is to blame for the contamination of the Lipsky’s water.

But the Texas Railroad Commission is refusing to look at the scientific evidence, rather claiming that it is inconclusive as to where the gas is coming from.

The industry is also desperately trying to deny the facts, claiming the Lipsky case is a fraud.

But as Julie Dermansky reports in this great piece on DeSmog Blog, the industry doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Help us share the science that proves fracking contaminates ground water

P.S. If you haven’t seen the Lipsky’s story yet, get your copy of Gasland Part II.

And if you haven’t seen Gasland Part I yet, click here

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

Protecting our Foodbowl, water and tourism from mining – Rally 2nd August 2014

Meet 9:45am at Parliament House and then 10am march to Victoria Square.

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South Australia has only 4.6% agricultural land outside of pastoral areas. Our farming production areas are being invaded by shale gas exploration in the South East of SA, mineral exploration and proposed mining for iron ore, copper and other minerals on Eyre Peninsula and Yorke Peninsula. Plus oil and gas exploration licences are off shore near Kangaroo Island, only around 10 km off our SA coastline.

These exploration and proposed projects are a major threat to our groundwater aquifers, surface water, soil and air. We want to maintain our clean, green food bowl, water and tourism which should be held in trust for generations to come. Currently, land owners in South Australia have virtually NO rights to say NO to mining and petroleum exploration on their properties, even if they don’t want it. This is unfair! We want the laws changed to protect our food bowl.

On Saturday, 2nd August, a rally and march will be held in Adelaide to help support and protect our agricultural, viticultural and ocean communities. We strongly urge everyone in rural areas as well as city areas to come and join us.

9.45 a.m. we will be meeting on the steps of Parliament House. Some short speeches will commence at 10 a.m. followed by a march to Victoria Square. Some short speeches will take place also at Victoria Square.   People are encouraged to stay for a picnic lunch or purchase food from nearby.

Please Note: Adelaide City Council CAN NOT park farm vehicles over 8 tonnes.  Please bring placards instead.

There are buses organised to take people from the South East up to Adelaide for the day.
 
 

Find out more about the Rally by clicking here to go to facebook

Contact Anne Daw for more information annedaw@bigpond.com

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Fracking worries for wine region

Interview with Peter Balnaves on ABC PM with Caroline Winter.

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MARK COLVIN: There are warnings that one of Australia’s most prestigious wine regions could be at risk if gas exploration goes ahead in South Australia.

Agriculturalists in the Coonawarra are calling for a moratorium on the practice, over fears that CSG drilling could harm underground water reserves. There’s already been exploratory drilling in the region to investigate the viability of shale gas deposits.

Caroline Winter reports.

CAROLINE WINTER: Just outside the town of Penola in South Australia’s south-east is a test well. It’s one of two which is being drilled to find out more about what sits below the surface.

REG NELSON: So what we hope to find is the potential for gas, whether it’s what people might call conventional or unconventional, it’s part and parcel of the process of exploration.

CAROLINE WINTER: Reg Nelson is managing director of Beach Energy. The mining company has come under fire, for its exploration in the region.

RED NELSON: There are myths and outright lies that are promulgated by people who have different agendas. I understand that people have concerns. We’re happy to talk to them honestly and openly to allay any concerns.

CAROLINE WINTER: The uncertainty surrounding the potential for mining there has prompted a number of protests and community meetings. It has agriculturalists and vignerons in the nearby wine region particularly concerned.

PETE BALNAVES: One of the biggest issues the area’s had to deal with. It’s got the potential to have some serious effect on a lot of industries.

CAROLINE WINTER: Pete Balnaves is the vineyard manager from Balnaves of Coonawarra. He’s worried that if the company finds gas, it will use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to tap into underground reserves, threatening the groundwater and highly valued agricultural land.

PETE BALNAVES: There’s known leakage between the top unconfined aquifer and the bottom aquifer, and so even taking water out of the lower aquifer could change the equilibrium.

CAROLINE WINTER: Pete Balnaves says that clean water is precious, and already there’s not enough to go around, let alone support the mining industry.

PETE BALNAVES: All the water that’s here at the moment is allocated. There’s only about 40-50 per cent of it that’s actually being used, and the fact that we’re taking cuts when only 40-50 per cent is being used shows you how fine the line is.

CAROLINE WINTER: If it goes ahead, it would be the first time the technique has been used in an agricultural area in South Australia.

Tony Beck is a specialist irrigator south of Penola.

TONY BECK: At least half of my income is directly or indirectly earned from irrigation and using water resources sustainably. So I have a huge stake in protecting our water resources.

CAROLINE WINTER: He says if it has to occur, gas exploration shouldn’t be on the doorsteps of highly productive food producers.

TONY BECK: The likelihood of being successful in cementing the zones between the aquifers is really quite low. In other words, the risk of something bad happening and saline water being pushed from the deep, salty aquifers up into the clean aquifers is really quite high.

CAROLINE WINTER: But Beach Energy’s managing director Reg Nelson disputes that, and a number of other claims.

REG NELSON: We set in triple layers of steel and concrete casing to depths of 500 metres below all of the known major aquifers in the region. I call it a triple steel clad guarantee that the aquifers will not be compromised.

CAROLINE WINTER: There’s also been suggestion that there’d be thousands of wells set up in the area. Is that correct?

REG NELSON: Absolute rubbish. I’ve seen reports from 3,000 to 20,000 wells. They’re confusing it with coal seam gas. It is nothing, I repeat, nothing like coal seam gas.

CAROLINE WINTER: He says the company is preparing to drill a second well and will spend up to a year analysing the data before any decisions are made.

Pete Balnaves says there’s only one outcome he’s interested in.

PETE BALNAVES: What we want and the industry standpoint is that we’re looking for, as Victoria have brought in on their side of the border, a four year moratorium on gas exploration until the correct regulatory framework can be brought into place to allow exploration or any other industry to come into the Water Allocation Plan in a controlled manner.

MARK COLVIN: Coonawarra vineyard manager Pete Balnaves ending Caroline Winter’s report.

Read the original article  from the ABC website

Limestone Coast Grape & Wine Council Plea

This full page advert was in the Penola Pennant Wed March 12th

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Protecting landholders’ rights in South Australia

Speech by Penny Wright | Environment & Biodiversity / Resources, Mining & CSG on 6th March 2014

“With unconventional mining spreading its tentacles across Australia, it has been extremely heartening to see civil society come into action, with strong and diverse alliances across sectors and the community to protect what we know we must protect and to oppose the health, social, cultural and environmental threats that coalmining and unconventional gas mining pose.”

Click here to view and read the entire speech

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Santos poisoned the groundwater in the Pilliga and then they lied about it

There was shocking news in the Sydney Morning Herald for the farmers of north-west NSW on Saturday – groundwater in the Pilliga had been poisoned with uranium, arsenic and other heavy metals as a result of CSG activities by Santos.

After hearing the news on Saturday, farmers Mark and Cherie Robinson jumped into action, and today they will be at NSW Parliament in Sydney, demanding a halt to CSG drilling in NSW in the wake of the shocking confirmation of water impacts.

Mark and Cherie have a farm west of the Pilliga and they are completely dependent on groundwater.  They can’t survive without it. They’ve already shown incredible courage – both have been arrested stopping Santos drill rigs in the Pilliga over the last month – an extraordinary action for two hard-working, law-abiding farmers.

lockthegatepilliga

Will you stand with Mark and Cherie, and add your voice to their call to defend our water from dangerous CSG mining?  Please get on the phone to Premier Barry O’Farrell and Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner – they need to hear from you directly that the people of NSW will not accept this risky, polluting industry threatening our state.

Santos have been hiding behind a wall of spin and deceit – they have been running advertisements saying they pose no threat to water resources, as recently as last week, while knowing full well for at least a year that they have poisoned the Pilliga aquifer.

Please take action now – if you can’t get on the phone, then please email the NSW Government decision-makers and tell them to shut-down Santos in the Pilliga and elsewhere in NSW.  We’ve made a simple one click tool, it will only take you one minute.

Farmers of north-west NSW have this morning told Santos to pack up their equipment and leave the region – and to never come back.

Their resolve has never been stronger.  Can you pitch in and provide them some support, by donating to our Narrabri Fighting Fund?  The funds will help protect the vital water resources of north-west NSW from any further CSG activity.

There is an incredible momentum building to shut down CSG in NSW in the wake of the shocking Pilliga water scandal.

Let’s make it happen, because there’s nothing more important than sweet clean water,

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Drew, Phil and all the Lock the Gate team

Landline – MUST WATCH video

Watch the Landline Segment here

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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.