Santos prosecution shows coal seam gas is unsafe

MEDIA RELEASE   –  12 June 2013

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today welcomed the Government’s announcement that Santos would be prosecuted for unreported spills of untreated coal seam gas water at their Pilliga forest operations near Narrabri.  He said the spills were a warning that coal seam gas was a risky industry that threatened to pollute water resources as well as disrupt farming operations.

Pilliga contamination with bottle

A tarry substance near coal seam gas operations in the Pilliga Forest NSW

“The Greens have been warning that coal seam gas is unsafe, unnecessary and unwanted for a long time.  This prosecution is proof that the warnings and risks of coal seam gas are well founded,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Coal seam gas water can be highly saline, contain a multitude of hydrocarbons and heavy metals, as well as drilling and fracking fluids.  Disposal of the huge amounts of waste water produced by coal seam gas operations is risky and problematic as these spills in the Pilliga indicate.

“Santos initially claimed that black tarry water near its operations was just ‘eucalyptus leaves discolouring the water’.  This prosecution shows that you cannot fool the public or the authorities, and Santos ought to apologise.

“The coal seam gas industry tried to fly under the radar for a long time, but local residents, farmers and activists have been dragging their ugly operations into the light.

“We’ve had a large number of pollution incidents and other problems with just a few dozen gas wells in NSW.  There is a huge risk in allowing thousands of coal seam gas wells to be drilled and fracked.

“Will we see similar spills from AGL’s coal seam gas operations into the clear streams of the Gloucester Valley and flowing into the oyster growing and fishing grounds of the Manning River?

“Instead of wasting billions in another fossil fuel, we should be investing in clean renewable energy like solar and wind,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips –  0419 444 916

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