Wednesday, 1 September 2010

A view from the coal seam gas front: Water and Food versus Gas and Energy

A report from out Walgett, NSW, way re coal seam gas (csg) extraction:

I am constantly flat out with the GAB and csg issues at the moment -  it is suddenly exploding.   Not only have Santos started seismic testing in our area (suddenly and silently) - but also we (GABPG) are liaising with the BSA (Basin Sustainability Alliance) up on the Darling Downs, who are fighting the csg industry there - and are in desperate straits.  

NSWFA meeting was absolutely brilliant -  huge crowd (and a lot of politicians there), and the speakers were fantastic.  Such absolute professionals and experts in their fields, it was most informative and incredibly well done.   

Fiona Simson (who is head of the NSW Farmers' Mining Taskforce, and is now their Vice President) has just returned from a trip to Powder Valley USA - to check out the situation there, and she spoke eloquently and showed photos of the complete devastation caused there by csg.   It began there (Powder Valley) in the early 1990's - and is the longest that anyone has had csg.    She said within the first month, the artesian flows disappeared.  Within the first year, stock and domestic flows disappeared.  She said the bore levels dropped 100m every 10 years.

The ruination of the aquifers (and soil and land) there is just frightening - and her photographs and talk were terrifying.   She showed photos of a town that has been totally evacuated and abandoned, due to csg mining.   The methane was coming out of their taps, and literally bubbling in the streets - so the whole town was evacuated and is now a ghost town.  Fiona is an incredible speaker, no notes, not one um or ah, she just spoke clearly and powerfully.   I think she's going to put the info. up on the NSW Farmers' site, if you wanted to look at it -  but she had only just returned from the USA so hadn't had a chance yet.

Other brilliant speakers were the Dalby solicitor Peter Shannon (presenting the legal viewpoint of access agreements and lack of landowners' rights), and the wonderful John Polglase -  I think he is a forensic scientist and hydrogeologist among other things, but I will have to check!   I could have listened to him all day.

It was the most enormously informative day, and it provided so much solid information - and the experts gave us a lot of question time.   It was so good of the members of the Basin Sustainability Alliance to come down from Dalby to give all their assistance and information.  
I honestly think we've suddenly had a breakthrough, don't you?   So many real experts in that field, all united against it - I feel (I hope!) the tide has turned!

Further reading:

  • Fiona Simson, NSWFA Mining Taskforce Chair

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