Basin water quality in jeopardy

Queensland Country Life - by James Nason 3/10/10

IAN Hansen is a water well driller with more than 30 years’ experience in the Great Artesian Basin.

He knows its subterranean layers and networks of sandstone aquifers and coal seams better than most, and says he holds grave concerns for its future.

Fuelling his concerns are images such as these of test holes drilled for mineral and gas exploration projects on the Darling Downs which have been left uncased and unsealed.

Mr Hansen said he has seen many examples of exploration test-holes that have been drilled through multiple aquifers but have not been properly decommissioned.

He said the practice left freshwater aquifers open to the risk of contamination from surface pollutants or cross-contamination from other groundwater systems.

Despite raising these concerns directly with his local Department of Natural Resources office, he said he had been told there was nothing the department could do.

However, he questions why exploration companies have been able to leave deep test-holes uncased or unsealed without prosecution by the department.

A Mines spokesman for the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation said the Water Act 2000 applied to the sealing and decommissioning of water bores, not petroleum wells.

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