Cancer-causing chemical confirmed in CSG wells

Sydney Morning Herald 18.11.2010

Follow-up tests have confirmed the presence of a carcinogen in three coal seam gas wells in central Queensland, Arrow Energy says.

Arrow last week said routine tests at the company’s Moranbah gas project, west of Mackay, had detected traces of benzene in samples taken from three of 60 wells.

The Arrow incident, and others like it, have forced the Bligh government to defend its safeguards for the coal seam gas industry.

Mr Ellwood said Arrow Energy was undertaking more detailed testing to identify the source of the chemical.

Last month, benzene was also found in eight wells at Origin and Australia Pacific LNG’s CSG wells.And earlier this year, another gas extraction project – Cougar Energy’s pilot underground coal gasification plant near Kingaroy – was forced to suspend operations after traces of benzene and toluene were found in nearby bores.

The Greens say an alarming pattern is emerging and want a moratorium imposed on exploration licences for CSG mining projects, until water supply and other risks are properly assessed.

The National Farmers Federation also fears there have not been enough studies done to ensure groundwater won’t be adversely affected by CSG and other similar operations.

Environmental concerns have led to some Queensland farmers locking their gates and refusing mining companies access to their land.

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