Gippsland beware of coal seam gas blow up and APPEA lies - permanent ban required not moratorium


IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 26 June 2013, Zero Emissions Media Centre, Melbourne

"Coal seam gas is destroying communities, damaging farming and devastating the water resources of prime agricultural land in Queensland and New South Wales," said Matthew Wright Executive Director of climate solutions think-tank Zero Emissions.

"In the past 12 months, CSG (Coal Seam Gas) companies have pounced on Gippsland, aiming to explore, extract and exploit fossil gas from coal seams while ignoring the environmental devastation it will create and running roughshod over local farmers and the community" said Wright.

"The oil industry peak body APPEA (Australian Petroleum Production Exploration Association) has been going around eastern Victoria spending up big on advertising and lobbyists running a charm offensive using propaganda such as "natural" to describe Coal Seam Gas.  There's nothing natural about letting the genie out of the bottle by taking a gas that has been safely stored for millions of years. Letting it out in such an uncontrolled fashion is dangerous to human health, the landscape, and the environment.

"APPEA has also been citing the number of land holder agreements reached in NSW and Queensland in an attempt to make the case that farmers and coal seam gas can go together.  The simple fact is that the unscrupulous gas companies have the upper hand and APPEA knows it.  They take advantage of terrible legislation that allows them to trample all over the rights of farming families, demanding an agreement within 28 days from any farmer they want to target with a legal notice served on them and taped to their front gate.

"And farmers up north aren't standing for it. They have chosen to lock the gate, get on the front foot, and fight - and they are having some big wins.

"This industry has no control, the extraction is based on gross assumptions and is dangerous and the community must beware, be on guard, arm themselves with all this basic knowledge, and be ready to fight.

"It's bad enough that Gippsland hosts one of the dirtiest coal industries in the world, but at least some of the immediate local damage that that industry causes is restricted to a few defined locations around Morwell and Tarralgon.  The coal seam gas industry doesn't operate in terms of three mines - large or small. They operate on hundreds of thousands of hectares with mines and wells installed only 500 metres apart in a pin-cushion grid fashion across the landscape.

"We've all seen those images from Texas where oil and gas wells across the plain dot every corner, hills, valleys and forests and we don't want to see it in Gippsland, which relies so heavily on its natural environmental beauty.

"Queensland and New South Wales are each seeing the prospect of 40,000 such wells across mining leases so big and vast that they're bigger than the entire state of Victoria.

"CSG extraction involves drilling wells into underground coal seams and pumping out water to allow trapped fossil gas to flow to the surface for capture. Many seams are also ‘fracked’ or hydraulically fractured with a high-pressure blast of sand, water and chemicals to improve permeability and optimise gas flows.

"The extreme levels of water extraction, fracking techniques, and seepage from toxic storages has serious impacts on subterranean aquifers which provide a vital source of freshwater to livestock, farming operations and rural communities. These practices continue to generate deep concern as the CSG industry’s rampant growth continues.

"The CSG industry takes out a massive volume of water in close proximity of lakes, waterways and water bores.

"Bore sites all over Queensland and New South Wales have been drying up, no longer suitable for farming due to depressurisation as well as drawdowns, lowering the water table of connected systems. In addition, more often than not, CSG mining affects the quality of water in a bore and makes it unsuitable for normal use.

"The rapid liquidation and removal of subterranean aquifers, that used to trap the gases safely below the ground, enables dangerous leaks of methane to occur all over and around a field area.

"Coal Seam Gas extraction involves tapping into seams that have water in them. Removing this water makes the gas flow, but it isn't restricted to flowing up the gas mine's own bore. It can flow up natural fissures in the local geological strata, existing and abandoned water bores, and wells that have been operating any time in the past 200 years.

"These migratory methane emissions even show up in domestic water supplies creating risks of gas fires and explosion in affected households.

"APPEA and its cadre of Coal Seam Gas companies need to get out of town and go back to where they came from - leaving the Gippsland community in peace and safety.

The Victorian Liberal and Federal Labor Governments both need to come in and guarantee the safety of the Gippsland community by announcing an indefinite moratorium or permanent ban now on all fossil CSG mining on land." said Wright.

"The science is in. Unconventional gas extraction has proven to be disastrous in the US and now, with local experience in New South Wales and Queensland, there is no excuse but to stop it.

"We must preserve our water and environment for our food and coming generations. CSG destroys both.

"We must explode the myth that gas is good for global warming- it is a disaster leaking one of the worst greenhouse gases- methane," said Matthew Wright Executive Director of climate and energy solutions think-tank lZero Emissions.

FOR COMMENT: Matthew Wright 0421 616 733

APPEA propaganda website