Protector Suits are a legendary bunch, they come together to help stop nasty gas companies in their tracks and last met in the Pilliga forest in north-west NSW to highlight the threat to the Great Artesian Basin from Santos CSG!
Santos threatens to build invasive CSG (Coal Seam Gas) fields across north west NSW starting with Narrabri.
Santos has initial plans to build 850 CSG wells across the Pilliga Forest and farms in the Narrabri Shire. Santos has CSG exploration licences that cover most of north west NSW and have mapped 4 large gas fields.
CSG fields require a network of roads, gas, water and electricity lines, as well as massive amounts of industrial infrastructure to support them.
Santos has signed no guarantee that gas will flow to NSW, but has signed contracts to sell gas overseas. The independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has stated that gas prices in NSW will be increased by at least $160 per household due to linking to the export market.
What Is Coal Seam Gas
CSG is methane that is held in coal seams. It differs from conventional gas, because it requires unconventional methods to extract. The methods involve removing the groundwater from the coal seam and hydraulic fracking and/or horizontal drilling. A cocktail of dangerous chemicals are used to drill, with or without fracking.
CSG Mining Is Not Safe
In the worst case, Santos’ drilling in the GAB (Great Artesian Basin) recharge zone in the Pilliga could stop the free-flow of bores right across the GAB area which covers 22% of Australia.
CSG waste water is also toxic. Testing in the Pilliga has shown it contains a range of heavy metals, radioactive substances, salts and hydrocarbons. During exploration, Santos has already:
- contaminated an aquifer in the Pilliga with heavy metals and uranium at 20 times the safe drinking water standards
- received fines for wastewater discharge into a local creek
- been prosecuted for environmental harm as a result of at least 20 major spills and leaks of wastewater
What Does It Mean For Your Health And Your Children?
Research by Doctors for the Environment found that the current level of assessment, monitoring and regulation of CSG exploration and mining activities in Australia is inadequate to protect the health of current and future generations of Australians
They have outlined three (3) key areas where there is a potential for adverse human health impacts:
- through contamination of water, air and soil (look at what has happened at Hopelands in Qld)
- through diversion of water and land away from agriculture and food production
- from mental health impacts on communities who have gas field changes imposed on them
In late 2013 an independent health survey found that 58% of the 113 surveyed residents from within the coal seam gasfield at Tara in Queensland reported that their health had been negatively impacted by CSG.
What Are The Impacts of CSG Fields On Local Landowners?
Property values may decline. The Queensland State Valuation Service applies a reduction of up to 20% in valuations of properties with CSG production wells located on them for rating and taxation purposes. Personal experience of property sales, suggest closer to 50% value reduction.
You may be underinsured. The NSW Chief Scientiest and Engineer, Prof. Mary O’Kane has stated that the CSG industry in NSW is largely under-protected.
Producers/farmers may be held liable if they have signed an NVD and their livestock are contaminated. A report by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation cited a Queensland case where a landholder was advised by their supply chain partners that they would be liable for CSG related contamination. Neither the CSG company nor the insurer would agree to indemnify the landholder against that risk.
Bank finance access may be affected. Rabobank has stated that “… the net impact of CSG mining activities on a banking relationship may include a diminished production base that reduces a borrower’s ability to service debt, a diminished asset base, … and diminished land value, which affects borrowing levels”.
What about your water, is it safe? The Chief Scientist of NSW Prof. Mary O’Kane recently stated that safeguards protecting water supplies from CSG are not adequate. She also stated that “there is currently no assurance that impacts are being comprehensively detected”.
What is it like living in a gasfield? In rural areas, gas wells can be drilled as close as 200m to your home. You may end up with an increasing number of wells on your propertly, plus pipelines, roads, compressor stations, and water holding plants. There will be lights, gas flares, noise, traffic and unknown staff with unlimited access to your property 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Find our more and get involved.
Call Phil on 0428 431 548 or Megan on 0427 476 232
by Ian Sutton
The Pilliga Push Camp is committed to protecting the waters of the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) and Murray Darling Basin by educating, uniting and mobilising communities. We shall sustain a Peaceful Direct Action (PDA) campaign to stop the development of Santos’s Narrabri Gas Project and the resulting destruction of the Pilliga (Billarrga) forest and its biodiversity, Gamilaraay sacred sites and cultural identity, as well as surrounding farmlands and the rural economy.
The Billarrga is one of very few significant recharge zones for the entire Great Artesian Basin (GAB), which extends over 22% of Australia and maintains base flows to countless wetlands, streams and rivers. This land is an incredibly sacred water sink, where the water cycle enters the largest underground water reservoir in the world, as well as contributes significantly to the head of pressure that helps drive the underground water flows.
This head of pressure created beneath the Billarrga enables the release of water back to the surface in more arid zones in Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and NSW, through natural springs and bores.
This process also helps hydrate the Murray Darling Basin and contributes significantly to the base flows of the Darling River.
Coal seams act as landscape filters, and the extreme water pressures deep below the ground have locked in hundreds of millions of years of accumulated salts and toxins, including volatile organic compounds, heavy metals and radioactive particles.
To release the gas from the coal seams Santos need to de-water and de-pressurise them, and in the process extract massive and unsustainable amounts of water from our underground reserves. The decrease in water pressure within the coal seams will impact significantly on the head of pressure driving the GAB, as well as release the salts and toxins.
In short, this campaign is about saving Australia’s future water security, food security and economic prosperity. ‘Water Is Life’, and once we destroy the water, there is no longer an economy, community or ecology.