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MP Tony Pasin replies to a member’s question.

A member’s question to Mr Pasin on 6th May

Is it true that you believe that the federal government should allow companies to mine coal seam (CSG), tight and shale gas?

Mr Pasin’s reply, excerpts

Thank you for contacting me regarding The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014 (the Bill).

In no way does my support for this Bill indicate approval or endorsement for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in our state’s high value agricultural zones.

In November 2014 I lobbied the State Government to establish an inquiry into potential risks and impacts of unconventional gas mining by means of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the South East. At the time I welcomed the Legislative Councils referral of this issue to the State Government’s Natural Resources Committee for inquiry.

I have taken a keen interest in the committee’s work and had hoped that a final report would have been tabled by this point. However, it has now been almost 18 months and the State Government’s Natural Resources Committee is yet to finalise its report or recommendations.

I had hoped that the inquiry would have provided the opportunity for proponents and opponents alike to discuss their positions in a formal way, and allow the committee to come to evidence based resolution regarding whether fracking should be allowed in our state’s premium agricultural zone.

Given the inordinate delay in the finalisation of the committee’s inquiry I am no longer prepared to wait for these findings to be tabled to make my position known.

This issue has been a controversial one for the whole of our community. Given the risks to our underground aquifers it is my view that hydraulic fracture simulation in the South East, and indeed in any of our states high value agricultural areas, should be prohibited.

On balance I am not persuaded that the risks to our precious water resource can be sufficiently mitigated. Furthermore I note that any contamination to those aquifers would be impossible to contain and would lead to widespread and catastrophic economic harm.

Sufficient gas resources exist elsewhere in our state and indeed interstate, to support our needs. The South East of South Australia is one of our nation’s most valuable agricultural zones, blessed with fertile soil and a pristine freshwater resource and in those circumstances the risks associated with unconventional gas mining considerably outweigh any benefits associated with the extraction of natural gas from our region.

Accordingly I have called on the State Government to implement a moratorium on unconventional gas mining in our state’s high value agricultural zones.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Pasin MP

 

WATER TRIGGER TO BE EXTENDED UNDER LABOR If elected!

Date 24th May 2016

THE HON MARK BUTLER MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER and MEMBER FOR PORT ADELAIDE

WATER TRIGGER TO BE EXTENDED UNDER LABOR TO SHALE AND TIGHT GAS

Labor recognises the importance of, and the community concern about the extraction of gas from shales and tight formations. That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will extend the current Water Trigger to include shale and tight formation gas projects.

There are many parts of Australia that are being explored for new unconventional gas extraction. In recent years, there has been growing concern by environmentalists, farmers and communities about the possible impacts of coal seam gas (CSG) projects and increasingly about shale and tight formation gas projects.

When in government, Labor added a Water Trigger to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act to cover CSG and large coal mining developments. This ensures that if these projects impact water resources, then they are rigorously assessed under the EPBC Act.

Labor’s policy will extend the protection provided by the Water Trigger to ensure that any shale or tight formation gas developments that impact water resources will also be subject to a full assessment under the EPBC Act and approval from the Minister for Environment; including an assessment by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee.

Through this process projects will be required to put in place systems to protect the environment if required and the concerns of communities in vulnerable regions can be addressed.

Labor wholeheartedly believes it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to protect Australia’s most precious environmental assets. Malcolm Turnbull on the other, hand has such little regard for Australia’s environmental values he’s throwing away this responsibility through his policy to delegate matters of national environmental significance to State and local governments.

Labor will ensure the gas industry operates to the highest environmental standards and will ensure full assessment and management of environmental and other impacts, including on water reserves and co-existence with other agricultural activities.

Labor is the only Party that will take action to ensure new shale and tight formation gas projects are environmentally safe and sustainable with rigorous science-based assessments. That is the only way we can manage environmental impacts and ensure sustainable local economic development.

DATE: TUESDAY 24 May 2016

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/

OffShore Seismic Testing at Robe

Seismic exploration may start offshore near Robe from January.  We are concerned about the impact of drilling offshore on our marine environment and fishing and lobster industries.  The recent inquiry into the DeepWater Horizon Drill rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has highlighted the need for strong regulation for environmental protection.  In Australia the Montaro oil spill in 2009 off WA pointed at inadequate regulations.  Both these oil spills were related to primary well control barrier failure and inadequate cementing.

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.

StepsofParliament

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

saveourfoodbowlrally

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

 

 

US Fracking Boom Creating Crisis of Illegal Toxic Dumping

Toxic materials from gas drilling industry creating ‘legacy of radioactivity’

– Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Hundreds of irradiated “filter socks” dumped in an abandoned building found by North Dakota officials on Feb. 28 (Source: North Dakota Dept of Health)Industrial waste from fracking sites is leaving a “legacy of radioactivity” across the country as the drilling boom churns out more and more toxic byproducts with little to no oversight of the disposal process, critics warn.

According to a new report in Bloomberg Wednesday, the controversial oil and gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing is “spinning off thousands of tons of low-level radioactive trash,” which has spawned a “surge” in illegal dumping at hundreds of sites in the U.S.

“We have many more wells, producing at an accelerating rate, and for each of them there’s a higher volume of waste,” Avner Vengosh, a professor of geochemistry at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, told Bloomberg. Without proper handling, “we are actually building up a legacy of radioactivity in hundreds of points where people have had leaks or spills around the country.”

Bloomberg reports:

Some states allow the contaminated material to be buried at the drill site. Some is hauled away, with varying requirements for tracking the waste. Some ends up in roadside ditches, garbage dumpsters or is taken to landfills in violation of local rules, said Scott Radig, director of the North Dakota Health Department’s Division of Waste Management.

In that state’s Bakken oilfields, “it’s a wink-and-a-nod situation,” said Darrell Dorgan, a spokesman for the North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition, a group lobbying for stricter rules. “There’s hundreds of thousands of square miles in northwestern North Dakota and a lot of it is isolated. Nobody’s looking at where all of it is going.”

In one recent example piles of garbage bags filled with radioactive debris from a nearby site —including radioactive filter socks that are used to strain wastewater from wells—were found in an abandoned building in North Dakota.

Fracking for oil and gas is particularly radioactive because of shale rock, “the dense formations found to hold immense reserves of gas and oil,” Bloomberg reports. “Shale often contains higher levels of radium—a chemical element used in industrial X-ray diagnostics and cancer treatments—than traditional oil fields.”

Those radioactive elements often mix with wastewater and a list of undisclosed chemicals used in the process. Past reports have shown that water treatment does little to clean this toxic water. In one recent case, wastewater from a hydraulic fracturing site in Pennsylvania, which is treated and released into local streams, was found to have elevated levels of radioactivity in the public water supply.

When radioactive fracking waste is not dumped illegally or buried on site, it is brought with other waste to landfills, but the skyrocketing amounts of fracking waste are pushing those sites to their limits.

“West Virginia landfills accepted 721,000 tons of drilling debris in 2013, a figure that doesn’t include loads rejected because they topped radiation limits,” reports Bloomberg. And in Pennsylvania the industry sent 1.3 million tons to landfills last year, including 16,000 tons of radioactive material.

While some states such as North Dakota scramble to deal with the growing problem, the list of reasons to halt the fracking industry altogether may become more enticing.

A report released on Monday found fracking sites are emitting up to 1000 times the amount of methane than federal regulators previously reported.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is up to 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Read the original article here

 

Fracking worries for wine region

Interview with Peter Balnaves on ABC PM with Caroline Winter.

peterbalnaves2

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