The NSW government’s new Office of Coal Seam Gas is refusing to answer how much public money is being spent assisting junior gas mining company Metgasco with its proposed drilling in Bentley near Lismore.
It was just one of a few questions raised by The Echo regarding the proposed Bentley mine after the recent NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) report into the Pilliga CSG operation. That report confirmed saline wastewater leached a number of heavy metals, including uranium, into two aquifers.
Additionally, Lock the Gate’s Carmel Flint said, ‘The report [into the Pilliga incident] reveals that the EPA did not conduct any independent sampling of their own, but relied entirely on data provided by the company they were investigating, Santos, and that the NSW Office of Water were effectively sidelined from the process. 170 million litres of toxic wastewater is now sitting above those two groundwater aquifers right now with no clear plan to clean it all up.’
Despite the damning EPA report, a media spokesperson instead replied with general statements regarding the legitimacy of Metgasco’s operation, citing various petroleum legislation, along with ‘over 300 conditions.’
But with only one sample of surface water movements being taken so far, there has been much public concern that testing was not comprehensive enough to ascertain the impact mining may have over all seasons.
The spokesperson said, ‘Richmond Valley Council is providing independent water bore sampling from local creeks and water monitoring bores subject to landholders’ agreement to allow access to their properties. Metgasco is paying for Council to independently oversee the water sampling, which is publicly available on their website.
‘Metgasco has in place an approved groundwater mon-
itoring and modelling plan that was developed in consul- tation with the NSW Office of Water.’
No water production
‘However, as the Metgasco bore well is a gas well and not a coal seam gas well, water production is not expected.
‘Water safeguards include all waste water being cap- tured in fit-for-purpose tanks with at least 20 per cent of the tank required to be left empty and management and transport safeguards in place.
‘This is an exploration core hole to remove a sample of the geological strata. It is not a pilot production gas well like the ones being operated in the Pilliga. Water produced in drilling a core hole is very very minor.’
The spokesperson de- clined to comment on whether they regarded the Pilliga contamination, the subsequent fine of $1,500 and the damning EPA report as responsible governance.