Showing posts with label Coal Seam Gas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coal Seam Gas. Show all posts

Thursday, 31 May 2018

The people of the Liverpool Plains versus Santos and its irresponsible domestic and international shareholders


Oil and gas mining corporation Santos Limited is currently seeking approval to drill up to 850 natural gas wells on est. 425 sites over 95,000 hectares in the Pilliga Forest region of north-west New South Wales. 

Pilliga Forest is consdered a rare example of intact temperate forest and covers an est. 300,000 hectares sitting atop a recharge area of the Great Artesian Basin.

Santos presents itself as an Australian company, yet two affilated Chinese companys hold over 624 million voting shares in the companyand its top institutional shareholders contain the usual mix of international banks, finance and investment companies2.

In its 2017 annual report Santos admits; A range of environmental risks exist within oil and gas exploration and production activities3

This is the response of the people living on the Liverpool Plains. 


The backyard of New South Wales is facing its biggest threat yet – invasive gasfields. Betrayal by governments has meant protectors are fighting to save the things they love. The Pilliga, Great Artesian Basin, Liverpool Plains – all are at risk. This is a David and Goliath battle to save our land, air and water from destruction. It’s also a fight for the soul and future of Australia. In this film we meet the experts and people living in the sacrifice zone and uncover the truth behind the real gas crisis confronting ordinary Australians.

https://youtu.be/h3h1FxwI1CE

Footnotes
1. As of 27 June 2017 Hony Partners Group, L.P and ENN Ecological Holdings Co Ltd acting in concert
2. At Page 130 https://www.santos.com/media/4319/2017-annual-report.pdf.
3. 15 February 2017 Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection fined Santos  $12,190 for non-compliance with a Soils Management Plan.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Failed coal seam gas mining company Linc Energy's 9 week trial underway in Queensland, Australia


As the story unfolded.........

ABC News, 16 April 2016:

Oil and gas company Linc Energy has been placed into administration in a bid to avoid penalties for polluting the environment, a Queensland green group says.

It was announced late Friday that administrators PPB Advisory had been called in to work with Linc's management on options including a possible restructure.

In a statement to the ASX, the company said after receiving legal and financial advice and considering commercial prospects the board decided it was in the best interests of the company to make the move.

It comes one month after the company was committed to stand trial on five charges relating to breaches in Queensland's environmental laws at its underground coal gasification site.

The state's environment department accused the company of wilfully causing serious harm at its trial site near Chinchilla on the Darling Downs.

Drew Hutton from the Lock the Gate Alliance said the company could face up to $56 million in fines if found guilty, but the penalty might never be paid.

"It is going to be difficult to get any money out of this company now that it is in administration," he said.


Mr Hutton said going into administration was a common legal manoeuvre to dodge fines and costly clean-ups......

Queensland Government, Dept. of Environment and Heritage Protection, 29 January 2018:

Environmental Protection Order directed to Linc

Prior to Linc entering liquidation, DES issued Linc with an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) which required it to retain critical infrastructure on-site, conduct a site audit and undertake basic environmental monitoring to characterise the current status of the site.

Linc’s liquidators launched a legal challenge associated with this EPO in the Supreme Court seeking orders that they were justified in not causing Linc to comply with the EPO (or any future EPO). DES opposed this application.

In April 2017, the Supreme Court directed that Linc’s liquidators are not justified in causing Linc not to comply with the EPO. The Court accepted DES’ argument that the relevant provisions of the EP Act prevail over the Commonwealth Corporations Act and that Linc’s liquidators are executive officers of the company. Subject to any appeal decision, this confirms DES’s ability to enforce compliance with environmental obligations owed by resource companies who have gone into administration or liquidation.

Linc’s liquidators have since appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal. This appeal was heard in September 2017 and the decision was reserved.

Environmental Protection Order directed to a related person of Linc

DES used the ‘chain of responsibility’ amendments to the EP Act to issue an EPO to a ‘related person’ of Linc. The EPO requires the recipient to take steps to decommission most of the site’s dams and provide a bank guarantee of $5.5 million to secure compliance with the order.

The recipient of the EPO has appealed to the Planning and Environment Court and that litigation is ongoing.

The recipient of the EPO also applied for an order that the appeal be allowed and the EPO be set aside on the basis that DES denied him procedural fairness. The Planning and Environment Court dismissed that application. The recipient of the EPO appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal. That appeal was heard in March 2017 and judgment in favour of DES was delivered in August 2017. Subject to any further appeal, this decision confirms that the recipient was not denied procedural fairness and that DES’ interpretation of the EP Act was correct.

The earlier appeal in relation to the EPO (regarding the substance of the document) is yet to be heard by the Planning and Environment Court.

Investigation and prosecution of Linc and former executives

Linc Energy Limited will stand trial in the Brisbane District Court, commencing 29 January 2018, on five counts of wilfully causing serious environmental harm, in contravention of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

All counts relate to operations at the Linc Energy underground coal gasification site near Chinchilla, from approximately 2007 to 2013, and allege that contaminants were allowed to escape as a result of the operation.

In addition, the Queensland Government has charged five former Linc Energy executives over the operation of the UCG site in Chinchilla. A committal hearing in the Brisbane Magistrates Court is expected to take place in mid-2018.

As these matters remain before the courts, DES is unable to comment further on the legal proceedings.

Media releases


ABC News, 30 January 2018:

A landmark case described by a District Court judge as "unusual" will hear how gas company Linc Energy allegedly contaminated strategic cropping land causing serious environmental damage to parts of Queensland's Western Downs.

Linc Energy is charged with five counts of wilfully and unlawfully causing environmental harm between 2007 and 2013 at Chinchilla.

The charges relate to alleged contamination at Linc Energy's Hopeland underground coal gasification (UCG) plant.

The trial will enter its second day today in the District Court in Brisbane, with crown prosecutor Ralph Devlin QC expected to begin his opening address to the empanelled jury later this morning.

Former Linc Energy scientists, geologists, and engineers as well as several investigators from the Queensland Environment Department are among those expected to give evidence.

Echo NetDaily, 30 January 2018:

BRISBANE, AAP – A failed energy company accused of knowingly and illegally polluting a significant part of Queensland’s Darling Downs has faced trial in a landmark criminal case in Brisbane.

Linc Energy is charged with five counts of wilfully and unlawfully causing environmental harm between 2007 and 2013 after allegedly allowing toxic gas to leak from its operations.

The Brisbane District Court trial has heard Linc’s four underground coal gasification (UCG) sites and water were polluted to the point it was unfit for stock to consume but the company kept operating.

Crown prosecutor Ralph Devlin QC told the jury the company allowed hazardous contaminants to spread even after scientists and workers warned about gases bubbling from the ground.

Linc operated four UCG sites in Chinchilla where it burnt coal underground at very high temperatures to create gas.

In his opening address on Tuesday, Mr Devlin said scientists warned senior managers about the risk environmental harm was being caused throughout the operation…..

 ‘Bond prioritised Linc’s commercial interests over the requirements of operating its mining activity in an environmentally safe manner,’ Mr Devlin said.

‘Linc did nothing to stop, mitigate or rehabilitate the state of affairs that Linc itself had caused.’

As part of the UCG process, Linc injected air into the ground, which created and enlarged fractures.

It tried to concrete surface cracks and use wells to control pressure but they didn’t sufficiently reduce risks or damage, the court heard.

‘Linc kept going, even knowing the measures weren’t working,’ Mr Devlin said.

Scientists who visited the site are due to give evidence during the nine-week trial, but no senior managers from the company, which is in liquidation, will take the stand.

The trial continues.

ABC News, 8 February 2018:

Workers at an underground coal gasification plant on Queensland's Western Darling Downs were told to drink milk and eat yoghurt to protect their stomachs from acid, a court has heard.

The gas company has pleaded not guilty to five counts of causing serious environmental harmfrom its underground coal gasification operations between 2007 and 2013 in Chinchilla.

The corporation is not defending itself as it is in liquidation so there is no-one in the dock or at the bar table representing the defence.

A witness statement by former gas operator Timothy Ford was read to the court, which he prepared in 2015 before his death.

The court was not told how Mr Ford died.

He said the gas burnt his eyes and nose and he would need to leave the plant after work to get fresh air because it made him feel sick.

"We were told to drink milk in the mornings and at the start of shift… we were also told to eat yoghurt," he said.

"The purpose of this was to line our guts so the acid wouldn't burn our guts.

"We were not allowed to drink the tank water and were given bottled water."

Mr Ford said he always felt lethargic, suffered infections and had shortness of breath.

"During my time at the Linc site, would be the sickest I have been," he said.

"It is my belief that workplace was causing my sickness.

"I strongly feel that the Linc site was not being run properly due to failures of the wells and gas releases.".....

Sunshine Coast Daily, 9 February 2018:

A CONCRETE pumper says he saw 'black tar' seeping up at a Linc Energy site and raised concerns with the company.

Robert Arnold has told a court he noticed some odd occurrences when he went to the Chinchilla site in late 2007……

On Thursday, Mr Arnold told jurors he noticed several phenomena at the site.
"We saw bubbles coming up ... and a black tar substance. We commented back to Linc about it."

"A few of us went over and had a look ... basically it just looked like a heavy black oil ... it was in the puddles as well, in the same area," Mr Arnold added.

"We couldn't place our equipment close to the well because of these overhead pipes ... it was dripping out of the joints."

Prosecutor Ralph Devlin earlier claimed a "bubbling" event happened on the ground after rainfall at the coal gasification site.

Mr Arnold told jurors that after discussing the oozing substance, concrete trucks turned up and he pumped the concrete into a well.

Mr Arnold said he felt the concrete used that time was "very light" but the on-site supervisor made that decision.

Prosecutors previously told the court concerns were raised at various times with Linc leadership about the quality of cement and geological data used at the site.

The Crown has also claimed Linc used its underground wells in a way that made them fail, and allowed contaminants to escape far way, to places Linc could not remove them.

BACKGROUND
Wikipedia, 5 February 2018:

Linc started its Chinchilla Demonstration Facility in July 1999. First gas was produced in that very same year. Initially Linc Energy used the underground coal gasification technology worked out by Ergo Exergy Technologies, Inc, of Canada. 

However, in 2006 the cooperation with Ergo Exergy was terminated and the cooperation agreement for technology usage, consultation and engineering services was signed with the Skochinsky Institute of Mining and the Scientific-Technical Mining Association of Russia.[2]

In 2005, Linc signed a memorandum with Syntroleum granting a licence to use the Syntroleum's proprietary gas-to-liquid technology and started to build a GTL pilot plant in November 2007 at the Chinchilla facility. The plant was commissioned in August 2008. The first synthetic crude was produced in October 2008.[3]

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Tony Windsor on fighting the Santos pipeline


They were there in an attempt to survey a pipeline to convey coal seam gas from gas giant Santos’s proposed Narrabri gas field. As one landholder, David Chadwick, said: the pipeline was the “head of the snake” and if allowed to proceed would provide the infrastructure to convey the gas to Sydney or internationally and provide the political pressure to develop about 850 gas wells near Narrabri, with a view to hundreds more across the Liverpool Plains and associated areas.” [Tony Windsor, former  independent member for the federal seat of New England]

The Saturday Paper, 9-15 December 2017:

Last week I was working with my son Andrew on our farm 25 kilometres north of Coonamble when he received a message that there were trespassers on the neighbouring farm. A digital alert system had been put in place for such an event.

Within minutes, farm vehicles from all the neighbours converged on the scene. Others moved in on the trespassers from the eastern side and in a pincer movement the trespassers became trapped and unable to gain access to their vehicles.

By this time, about 100 agitated and concerned farmers, their employees and families were there to express their disgust at what had just occurred. The police had also arrived.
It was ascertained that these trespassers were not your everyday illegal pig hunters or bushwalkers. But they were no less illegal and in breach of the law.

These trespassers were eventually allowed to leave after the police took their details. They proceeded to another small town called Warren, more than 100 kilometres away, where they were observed acting strangely.

The next day, they were followed on the ground by vehicle and in the air by aircraft and again they invaded private lands without appropriate authority and were hunted off. They returned to Coonamble to complain to police about being harassed, and then they left the district.

The trespassers were dressed in new clothes, trying to look like ecological scientists but without any identification. They had a security officer with them.

The question is why? Why would these people climb over a gate to gain access to the property when on that gate was a sign warning about biosecurity, with the farmer’s mobile phone number on the sign? Why wasn’t contact made? Why were they behaving like this?

It has often been said there will be wars over water. In its own way, the scene I was watching was a skirmish in what has the potential to become a war and rewrite the politics of water, land use and energy in this country. It was also an insight into how threatened the farm community felt and demonstrated how it would be difficult to fight these farmers’ guerilla tactics. It was a warning they were serious players.

It also occurred to me that most people in our major cities would not necessarily understand why a small community would mobilise itself so quickly at an apparent breach of their rights.

This article is an attempt to explain some of the detail and policy clashes that will evolve over the coming year, on the Liverpool Plains, on the plain country west of the Pilliga, and around the Adani coalmine in Queensland.

Read the full article here.

Friday, 29 September 2017

"As our land subsides and cracks open and our permanent creek is sucked dry, I can feel our patience towards the miners doing the same"


The Land, 24 September 2017:


Environmental hypocrisy
FOR the past 20 years, my husband and I have experienced first-hand the mining industry’s attitude to impacted farmers and to rehabilitation. 
Now, their recent attacks on environmental charities makes my blood boil. As the unsuspecting neighbours of the Wambo underground coal mine near Singleton, our beef cattle business’ productivity has been cut almost in half.
As our land subsides and cracks open and our permanent creek is sucked dry, I can feel our patience towards the miners doing the same. 
Despite decades of word-fests, reports and promises, we have seen no real action at all from the mining company to rehabilitate our land, or our creek water.        
It turns out our experience is not isolated; only nine per cent of all mining land across Australia has been successfully rehabilitated. Across Australia there are massive voids filling with toxic water, poisoned or destroyed creeks and land subsiding. And the mining industry’s solution to their gaping mess: get environmental charities to clean it up!
Currently there are reforms being proposed to the Tax Deductibility Status of all sectors of charities by Federal Treasury.  
The miners see this as their chance to not only duck their own responsibilities, but to also pass the buck to environmental charities. The changes promoted by the mining sector, single out environmental charities only, for them to spend half their time on physical works to clean up the toxic messes created by the mining industry.
The hypocrisy is astounding. When I saw that one organisation close to my heart, the Lock The Gate Alliance, was under attack by these reforms, I was sickened. Without them, our fight to rehabilitate our farm would have been a lot harder.  
Their help with connecting us with politicians and government officials, getting our story into the media and sharing experiences of other mine-impacted people has been priceless. 
Most importantly they help to keep us sane, giving us hope that one day we will break the impasse of inaction by the miners.
We earn our money, we pay taxes and we can choose to support charities that we believe are helping to create a better world. 
They should be left alone to do their work without these extra burdens, designed to feather the nest of multinational mining companies.
Wambo mine, and hundreds like it across Australia, must factor the cost of properly rehabilitating land and water into their cost of doing business.  
Otherwise it is a sham business model that the community is subsidising.
The proposed changes could mean Lock the Gate would have less time to help advocate for the rights of farmers to produce clean food for Australia. 
Instead, they’d be forced out into our paddocks with shovels, filling in the sink holes made by the mines.
We need groups like Lock the Gate holding the mining companies to account. 
I appreciate the help in getting my voice heard as a food grower. We need this to be a public debate in our cities.
If these changes go through, our support of Lock the Gate would be wasted on endless clean up jobs, while the miners continue to make profits and mighty mess, skirting any legal responsibilities for rehabilitation. And I for one find that an abomination.
Miners, clean up your own mess and leave farmers and Lock the Gate alone.
Janet Fenwick,
Bulga.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Knitting Nannas Visit Narrabri and Proposed Santos Gasfield During Third Annual Conference


The Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Greed (KNAG) held their third annual conference at Narrabri on August 25-27. Attendees came from around NSW and further afield. The theme of this year’s conference was “Well behaved women seldom make history”.    
Narrabri was chosen as the venue because of its proximity to Santos’ proposed gasfield.  (The gasfield starts 6 km from the Narrabri Post Office.)

The attendees welcomed the opportunity to network with other Nannas and to hear inspiring speeches from Sue Higginson (Environmental Defender’s Office ) and Sydney Morning Herald journalist  Elizabeth Farrelly as well as women from the local Gomeroi community.  Unfortunately Janelle Saffin, who had been scheduled to speak, was an apology because of illness.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the conference was the opportunity to learn more about Santos’ gasfield which will cover a large area of farmland as well as the Pilliga Forest. In addition to hearing about local concerns, the Nannas had the opportunity to tour parts of the gasfield.

This immense development of 850 gas wells will have a devastating impact on the biodiverse-rich Pilliga Forest which provides habitat for a range of threatened species including Koala.  It’s not just the number of wells proposed but all the accompanying infrastructure such as roads, pipelines, vents and flares which mean that large amounts of the forest will be cleared.

So here we have land owned by the people of NSW – it’s OUR forest – which is going to be devastated so that Santos can make massive profits.  What was of great concern is that there has ALREADY been extensive infrastructure (wells, flares, wastewater storage and pipelines) developed in the Pilliga Forest – although to date it has only been a pilot project. Forest clearing is not the only issue about Santos’ gasfield.  There are major concerns. about contamination of the water table and impact on the recharge of the Great Artesian Basin. Santos also has a poor record in preventing and then cleaning up toxic spills during operation of its pilot project. And then there’s the question of the disposal of huge volumes of produced water and salt.  Santos has not provided satisfactory answers to these and many other questions.

While final approval has not yet been given for this proposal[1], the Nannas are concerned about the NSW Government’s record in pushing destructive mining projects which are not in the long-term community interest. We fear that this project will be approved despite all the opposition and the very many concerns about its long-term impacts.  It seems the big end of town is much more important to our politicians than the future health of our natural environment or productive farmland.   The Nannas want to see this change.

- Leonie the Novice Knitter


[1] The massive EIS was on exhibition earlier this year.  A final decision on whether the project will be allowed to go ahead is yet to be made.

Images supplied

Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical comment from NSW Northern Rivers residents. Email northcoastvoices at gmail dot com dot au to submit comment for consideration

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

"Water Is Life" anti-fracking campaign hit Australia's highways on 8 July 2017


Some images from the Water Is Life anti-fracking event held along the nation's highways on Sauturday, 8 July 2017.



Well done, one and all!

*All images found on Twitter

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

People Power in The Pilliga


HuffPost, 8 June 2017:
It's easily the largest dryland forest in NSW (and indeed eastern Australia). The area is a treasure. In addition to its inherent natural beauty, it has a rare far-inland koala population, as well as almost unbelievably pure groundwater…..

The Department of Planning & Environment told HuffPost Australia that Santos will now be asked to provide a detailed response to the issues raised in submissions, and that the Department will seek advice from a range of independent scientific experts.
"There is no fixed time frame for the assessment of the project, but a final decision is not likely until next year," a Department spokesman told us.
You get the impression that Kennedy and many people like her will continue to agitate while they await the decision.
"I would say that this unprecedented enormous number of submissions objecting to this would clearly say to our government that they are wrong, and that they failed to listen to the people," Kennedy said.
"Not failed, but deliberately ignored our constant visits, our endless supply of information and science we provided to them over many years, proving that this industry would destroy our land and water.
"They constantly said that there were just a few selfish ratbag farmers, who wanted to protect their land and water from being destroyed by this industry, and who wanted to be able to continue to supply clean food and water to future generations of Australians.
"They said we were a tiny minority, that most people supported this gas project. The 23,000 submissions prove that its not just a handful of selfish farmers. It is the public. It is all the people who live here and want to continue to eat clean food, drink clean water, and have healthy lives."…..
In addition to threatening the water supply of farmers like Anne Kennedy, contaminated water would have terrible implications for the fauna of the Pilliga, like this adorable little threatened eastern pygmy possum.

Friday, 26 May 2017

NSW nurses & midwives stand with Pilliga-Narrabri communities against Santos coal seam gas project


“Santos expects to build 850 production wells over the next two decades” within the mining lease. ABC NEWS, 10 April 2017, PHOTO: An aerial shot of the Santos CSG exploration project in the Pilliga. (Audience supplied: Dean Sewell)

Echo NetDaily, 19 May 2017:

Local nurses are voicing their concerns about the threat to health in a submission to the government objecting not only to the Santos Narrabri Coal Seam Gas Project, but to all CSG mining across NSW.

It was following a successful motion put forward by the Lismore Base Hospital branch of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association that the a submission was lodged.

‘As nurses and midwives we believe that an ecologically sustainable environment promotes health and wellbeing. We are greatly concerned about the health of communities impacted by CSG’, said Heather Ryan Dunn, midwife and Vice President of the Lismore Base branch of the NSWNMA. ‘We also know that climate change is the biggest threat we are currently facing and that decisions made today will impact greatly on future generations.’

The 20 page submission which includes references to CSG well accidents and risks to human health via contaminated water and air pollution, is one of approximately 12,000 already submitted in response to the EIS, a record breaking and resounding ‘no’ from objectors to the project.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Of Gas and Hot Air


Energy security became a major political issue following a storm-induced blackout in South Australia late last year.  Instead of the massive storm which knocked over the transmission towers being the “villain”, the Prime Minister and his Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg  blamed the state’s level of renewable (wind) energy for the outage. They have persisted with this version of events regardless of all the evidence to the contrary.
In the months since then politicians and others have had a great deal to say about the national energy grid and its shortcomings and renewables and base-load power.  Ideology has played a very significant part in the statements of many politicians. This of course means that truth has often been twisted or completely ignored. 
Recently the focus has been on gas and a predicted gas shortage.
Despite the claims of the Government and many industry players, there is no general gas shortage.  There is, however, a looming domestic shortage because most of the enormous volume of gas being extracted is being exported. 
The Federal Government has rather belatedly recognised that, despite the fact that Australia will soon be the largest gas-exporting country in the world, there will be a shortage of gas for the domestic market.  Moreover, the Government has realised that domestic consumers are paying more for gas than consumers of Australian gas in Japan - even after the cost of processing and transporting of the resource to that country. This has become a rather urgent matter for the Government because domestic gas prices and the uncertainty of supply is hurting local industries.  For a government that talks about jobs and growth, permitting more of our dwindling manufacturing base going either “down the gurgler” or offshore would be politically foolish.
As the Prime Minister’s meetings in recent months with the major gas exporters have not produced the cooperation he hoped for, he recently decided to take further action.  It is action that the industry is unhappy about saying that this will discourage global investment, a claim which is unsubstantiated. There are others, including some in the Government, who believe that this interference in the market is not justified.
What happens elsewhere?  Western Australia, the one Australian state which had the forethought to realise that there was a need to protect local interests, has a gas reservation policy[1]. Many other countries, including Canada, the USA, Israel, Indonesia and Egypt, have various mechanisms to ensure that they won’t end up in the situation that Australia is heading towards.  In their rush to encourage foreign investment, successive Australian Federal Governments failed to see that safeguards to protect domestic gas supplies were needed in the national interest.
Prime Minister Turnbull has stated that his measures will only be needed for the short term because he expects that there will be further development of local gasfields which can service the domestic market. He is referring specifically to NSW and Victoria which have currently stopped unconventional gas mining. (There is an exception in NSW.  Santos’ project in the Pilliga in the north-west is currently going through the planning approval process.)
The Prime Minister is one of many politicians and industry players who have weighed in wanting the opening up of NSW and Victoria to coal seam and unconventional gas mining. 
Recently Ian Macfarlane, the head of the Queensland Resources Council, and a former federal Coalition Minister, criticised the NSW and Victorian Governments for lacking the will to develop their gas resources in the same way that Queensland has.[2] 
What Macfarlane either does not understand or conveniently ignores is that it is what happened in Queensland as well as overseas in the USA and elsewhere that alarmed communities in NSW and Victoria and generated the campaigns against CSG and unconventional gas mining – campaigns that have gathered strength also in the Northern Territory and the north-west of Western Australia. 
In his interview with Leigh Sales on ABC TV’s 7.30 on April 27 Macfarlane paints a very rosy picture of the industry in Queensland [3]. He claims “irresponsible green activism” stopped the industry in NSW.   Blaming the anti-gas campaign on the “greenie” bogey is convenient for many conservatives but is far from a true reflection of the breadth of community opposition to an invasive and polluting industry.
It will be interesting to see whether the urging of the Federal Government and proponents like Macfarlane encourage the NSW and Victorian Governments to change their positions on gas mining. If this happens, the reaction from those who see the industry as an unacceptable threat to agriculture and the environment is easy to predict.
Hildegard
Northern Rivers         
5 May 2017

GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT gmail.com.au for consideration. Longer posts will be considered on topical subjects.

Memo to all federal and state members of parliament: The Great Artesian Basin is not a vast underground sea of fresh water so stop treating it as if it is


Figure 1. The Great Artesian Basin; spring cluster data sourced from Fensham (2006Fensham, R. 2006. Spring wetlands of the Great Artesian Basin. Paper for the 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee, Department of Environment and Heritage, Canberra.http://www.deh.gov.au/soe/2006/emerging/wetlands/index.html(accessed December 16, 2014). ).

It is long past time that all parliamentarians of every political persuasion ceased robbing the nation of its present and future water security with their petty partisan politics and insane reliance on ideology over scientific fact.

In simple language Kim de RijkePaul Munro & Maria de Lourdes Melo Zurita point out that the Great Artesian Basin is not an endless supply of fresh water and to treat it as such is dangerous.

Taylor & Francis Online, 11 February 2016:

Excerpt from Society & Natural ResourcesAn International Journal  Volume 29, 2016 - Issue 6: Thinking Relationships Through Water

With regard to the process of extracting gas and subterranean water, a commonality in the submissions of CSG companies and state governments is the simplification of the GAB. It is constructed as a large, well-understood, and unproblematic body of underground water:

[The GAB is] equivalent to approximately 22% of Australia’s land mass. Compared to the total storage capacity of the GAB, the amount of water projected to be extracted during CSG production is very small … the annual water extraction is likely to be less than 0.0002% of total storage. This is the equivalent of taking approximately 5 litres out of an Olympic sized swimming pool. (Australia Pacific LNG 2011, The Senate Inquiry, Submission 368).

Water, in such submissions, is a simplified and abstracted object of nature to be represented solely in terms of volumes and percentages. It is exemplar of Jamie Linton’s (2014 Linton, J. 2014. Modern water and its discontents: A history of hydrosocial renewal. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water1 (1):111–20. doi:10.1002/wat2.1009 [CrossRef], [Google Scholar]) notion of “modern water’” a particular way of knowing and relating to water abstracted from its local, social, cultural, religious, and ecological contexts. The anxiety-riddled relationships between the arid region overlying the GAB and water resources are posited as insignificant to extractive practices. Such instrumental and rationalist simplification is part of discursive strategies to produce a view of subterranean water amenable to the (economic) growth of the modern state (Linton 2010 Linton, J. 2010. What is water? The history of a modern abstraction. Vancouver, BC, Canada: UBC Press. [Google Scholar]; 2014 Linton, J. 2014. Modern water and its discontents: A history of hydrosocial renewal. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water1 (1):111–20. doi:10.1002/wat2.1009 [CrossRef], [Google Scholar]; Finewood and Stroup 2012 Finewood, M. H., and L. J. Stroup. 2012. Fracking and the neoliberalization of the hydro-social cycle in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education 147 (1):72–79. doi:10.1111/j.1936-704x.2012.03104.x[CrossRef], [Google Scholar]). The final Senate Inquiry report, however, chided some CSG company submissions, noting that

[The GAB] is not a vast underground ‘sea’ in which levels and pressures quickly and uniformly adjust to the extraction of water from one part. Rather it is a highly complex system of geological formations at a range of depths, of variable permeability holding water of different quality, at different pressures and through which water flows at very different rates, if it flows at all. The reduction in pressure in a coal seam will result in a local fall in the water level and pressure in that particular area which may alter the rate and direction of the movement of groundwater in adjacent formations. The impact of this change may take many years to have a measurable impact on adjacent aquifers. Similarly the contingent loss of water from adjacent aquifers may not be made good by natural recharge for decades or even centuries. (RATRC 2011, 19)

Discursive attempts by CSG proponents to portray a simplified body of subterranean water thus sit uneasily alongside broader scientific narratives of the GAB. A critical scientific challenge, as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, cited in RATRC 2011 Management of the Murray Darling Basin interim report: The impact of mining coal seam gas on the management of the Murray Darling Basin. Commonwealth of Australia 2011 Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee. (accessed February 8, 2016). , 19) notes, is “to visualize its exact structure.” While the GAB is no longer described as a source of “mystery water” (Powell 2011 Powell, O. C. 2011, Great Artesian Basin: Water from deeper down. In Queensland historical atlas: Histories, cultures, landscapes.(accessed February 8, 2016).), disparities point to continuing knowledge contests fuelled by the limitations of geological modeling technologies that aim to make “darkness visible” (Shortland 1994 Shortland, M. 1994. Darkness visible: Underground culture in the golden age of geology. History of Science 31 (1):1–61. doi:10.1177/007327539403200101 [CrossRef], [Google Scholar]).

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