Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Looking back at a time when the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association sometimes told the unvarnished truth

A time when the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) was honest with the people of New South Wales:

3 August 2011

Ben Cubby

THE coal seam gas industry has conceded that extraction will inevitably contaminate aquifers.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association told a fiery public meeting in Sydney that good management could minimise the risks of water contamination, but never eliminate them.
"Drilling will, to varying degrees, impact on adjoining aquifers," said the spokesman, Ross Dunn. "The extent of impact and whether the impact can be managed is the question."
The admissions came before the start of the first public hearing in NSW, held in Narrabri, of a Senate inquiry into the effects of coal seam gas mining.
The hearing was told that many farmers in northern and western NSW were angry about proposals to extract coal seam gas from their land, and some planned to join a mass campaign to lock their gates in the face of resources companies...
"The intent of saying that is to make it clear that we have never shied away from the fact that there will be impacts on aquifers," Mr Dunn said.
"I'm wanting to ensure that we are not seen as saying there won't be any impacts during the process. It is a matter of monitoring and managing those impacts."...
Of course, immediately after the publication of this article APPEA denied the published quotes of its spokesperson.
However, on 7 March 2014 The Sydney Morning Herald published an article which supported APPEA's original statements:
A coal seam gas project operated by energy company Santos in north-western NSW has contaminated a nearby aquifer, with uranium at levels 20 times higher than safe drinking water guidelines, an official investigation has found.

It is the first confirmation of aquifer contamination associated with coal seam gas activity in Australia - a blow to an industry pushing state and federal governments for permission to expand.

Santos was fined $1500 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority, which posted a media release on its website on February 18, without identifying the nature of the contamination.

Two days later, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner signed a memorandum of understanding with Santos to speed up the project, in the Pilliga forest near Narrabri, guaranteeing a decision on its future by January 23 next year.

The EPA says it launched an investigation after routine testing in March last year by Santos of groundwater around the project - which remains in the test well stage - detected ''elevated levels of total dissolved solids and slightly elevated levels of other elements''.

The investigation concluded there was no evidence contractors engaged by the previous owner of the project, Eastern Star Gas, followed strict rules when building a pond to hold waste water and brine produced when gas is extracted. The investigation concluded the pond liner was of ''poor quality, which resulted in the integrity of the liner being questionable''.

On Friday, EPA chief environmental regulator Mark Gifford confirmed the contamination was caused by water leaking from the pond and that lead, aluminium, arsenic, barium, boron, nickel and uranium had been detected in an aquifer at levels ''elevated when compared to livestock, irrigation and health guidelines''.

Mr Gifford said the metals are ''not additives'' and occur naturally in the surrounding soil and water.
''However, the leaking pond has mobilised the elements and moved them into the aquifer, increasing their concentrations,'' he said...

Note: My red bolding

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