Tighter control needed for risky practices with coal seam gas water in NSW

The Greens have condemned the paltry fine given to gas company Santos for not having appropriate approval for using treated coal seam gas water and called for an increase in penalties for breaches of licences or misconduct.

NSW Greens MLC and Resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said, “Santos has today received an inadequate fine for using treated water from its Narrabri coal seam gas operations for irrigation at Leewood without the appropriate approval.

“In practice, a $1,500 fine is a slap-in-the-wrist for a big gas company like Santos who see the weak penalties for breaches as merely another cost of doing business.

“AGL’s attempts to irrigator saline treated coal seam gas water at Gloucester ended in failure. The Santos attempts, even if legalised, will also end in failure.

“In the United States, they call irrigating land with coal seam gas water “land farming”. They basically contaminate the land and let salt tolerant weeds grow.

“There are serious questions that remain unanswered about the use of coal seam gas in NSW. The safe disposal of the large amounts of salt and wastewater generated by coal seam gas operations is a massive issue and one companies like Santos have yet to be resolved.

“The regulation of coal seam gas is not up to scratch in NSW, with this breach at Narrabri the latest in a long line of breaches and pollution incidents involving various coal seam gas projects.

“The Greens call on the Government not to grant any approval for the use of treated coal seam gas water until it can be proven safe and for an increase in penalties for breaches of licences or lack of appropriate approvals,” he said.

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