Mines & CSG

The Coal Seam Gas (or Coal Bed Methane) industry, and the mining industry, present the greatest threats to the GAB today. These industries use enormous quantities of this good potable and finite GAB water, and turn it to “waste water” – which then becomes a problem to get rid of, as it pollutes the environment with millions of tonnes of salt, contaminated with heavy metals and other pollutants.

For CSG extraction, the water must be removed from the coal seam, to extract the gas. Not only does CSG extraction require a lot of water to start the extraction process, but the aquifer itself must be de-watered to lower the pressure to allow the gas to escape. The volume of water to be removed from the aquifers is staggering – the latest figures are that the equivalent of twenty times Sydney Harbour (10 million megalitres) will be extracted from the GAB for CSG.

To date, over $500 million has been spent by governments and bore owners in trying to slow the depletion of the GAB and to restore its diminishing pressure. CSG extraction does the exact opposite of what GABSI has been trying to achieve. GABSI is trying to conserve the GAB and restore pressure; CSG extraction de-waters and de-pressurises the GAB, to extract the gas.

The CSG industry is ‘young’ in Australia, but because the govt’s are getting such huge amounts of money from it, the industry is booming at an unbelievable pace. We should be able to learn from the mistakes the U.S. has made, where CSG mining (they call it “natural gas” in the U.S.) has been going on for twenty years.  There it has drained the aquifers, and caused incredible environmental damage, pollution and underground fracturing, methane migration, and enormous health problems – and the issue is actually now before Congress as they belatedly try to tighten up their Safe Drinking Water act.

To extract the gas from the coal seam, they use a process of injecting water, sand and a supposedly “trade secret” mix of chemicals into the rock strata, under great pressure, to crack the rock along its horizontal strata, in order to release the gas trapped within the rock layers (this is known as the Halliburton method). 

As that process occurs, some of the fluids used escape rapidly, and appear as “spills” on the surface, and around drilling rigs; some stay in the groundwater; some “migrate” along the various cracked strata, and contaminate the groundwater or rivers further “down gradient”.    Some of these ‘fracking fluids’ contain volatile chemicals, others are known to be toxic, and carcinogenic.   Many of these ‘secret’ chemicals are now known, as a result of “leaks” and traces identified in groundwater studies (initially in America – as their csg industry has been going for a long time, and the disastrous consequences are now all too evident).  

Information obtained from environmental clean-up sites shows that known toxins are routinely being used, including hydrochloric acid, diesel fuel (which contains benzene, toluene, and xylene) as well as formaldehyde, polyacrylamides, and chromates. These chemicals include known carcinogens and other hazardous substances, and are being used here in Australia.  

This industry is ‘self-regulated’ –  and so a system of constant and random inspections by an independent body, should be immediately introduced.   No other industry, that has the potential to have such an enormous detrimental impact on the environment – and on our vital, life-giving water – is allowed to conduct their business without stringent inspections.

Gas Drillers bring in the Heavy Hitters

As public sentiment shifts against the sector, NSW’s biggest coal seam gas companies are busier than ever safeguarding their billion dollar babies with the help of high profile and well connected lobbyists.

Together the big CSG players — Metgasco, Santos and AGL — have seven separate lobby firms working for them, more than doubling their clout behind the scenes.

Energy use sucking up a precious resource

“The largest single water user in the industrialised world is the energy industry. Prodigious amounts are needed to produce nearly every type of electricity and transport fuel across the energy value chain . . .
The link between energy and water is rarely discussed, yet is of huge consequence.
It is strange, strange, strange that when it comes to the most important subject on the planet, the basis of all life – water – governments, international agencies, economists, scientists and businesses have consistently underestimated the growth in global demand, and the growing stress on supply.”

Coal Seam Gas Moratorium

Please sign this petition for a Moratorium on CSG mining and exploration.

The Coal Seam Gas Rush

Did you know:
• it is estimated there will be 40,000 coal seam gas wells in Australia
• conservative estimates suggest coal seam gas wells could draw 300 gigalitres of water from the ground each year?
• the industry could produce as much greenhouse gas as all the cars on the road in Australia?
• modelling suggests the industry could produce 31 million tonnes of waste salt over the next 30 years?

CSG company failed to report saline spill

First Eastern Star Gas, and then Santos, failed to report a 10,000-litre spill of toxic saline water from their CSG operation in the Pilliga State Forest. The State govt. says there is “potential for prosecution”.

Katter’s Qld leader joins CSG protest

Mr McLindon, a former LNP member and sitting Beaudesert MP, said he had joined the blockade because he shared the residents’ concerns about the mining practice.
“The coal seam gas threat has well and truly reached the heart of the Scenic Rim as the foreign-owned company, Arrow Energy, rolls out its exploration permits,” Mr McLindon said on Friday.

Walgett schoolteacher, Mr Robins, said the protesters wanted baseline water tests to be conducted on local aquifers before drilling was allowed to begin.
“We need to know what is in there now, because after drilling, once it’s contaminated we have to know who is responsible,” he said.

Fracking hell: the untold story

An original investigative report by Earth Focus and UK’s Ecologist Film Unit looks at the risks of natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale. From toxic chemicals in drinking water to unregulated interstate dumping of potentially radioactive waste that experts fear can contaminate water supplies in major population centers including New York City, are the health consequences worth the economic gains?

‘Fountains’ of methane 1,000m across erupt from Arctic ice

The Russian research vessel Academician Lavrentiev conducted a survey of 10,000 square miles of sea off the coast of eastern Siberia. They made a terrifying discovery – huge plumes of methane bubbles rising to the surface from the seabed.
‘We found more than 100 fountains, some more than a kilometre across,’ said Dr Igor Semiletov, ‘These are methane fields on a scale not seen before. The emissions went directly into the atmosphere.’

Exposure to severe urban air pollution influences cognitive outcomes, brain volume and systemic inflammation in clinically healthy children

Exposure to severe air pollution produces neuroinflammation and structural brain alterations in children.

Media Release from Lock the Gate Walgett

MEDIA RELEASE: Last Thursday, 15 December 2011, approximately fifty people attended the ‘What Is In Our Water Forum’ at the Walgett RSL Memorial Hall. This meeting was organised by Lock The Gate Walgett, a group of concerned community members who wish to raise awareness about the risks and dangers associated with coal seam gas mining in NSW.

‘Corruption’ alluded to at CSG hearing

SOUTHERN Highlands representatives at the NSW Upper House Inquiry into coal seam gas (CSG) mining in Mittagong on Friday were overshadowed by a powerful statement from Rivers SOS.
Ms Graham spoke about the “white elephant” in the room being the “undue influence” that mining companies had over Australia’s political process.
She received rousing applause from the gallery.

How the EPA linked “fracking” to contaminated well water

Rigorous studies on fracking have been sparse, and the impassioned debate has raged on. A new investigation by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at a site in Wyoming is one of the first to look thoroughly at the potential link between fracking operations and groundwater contamination. The agency’s report was released yesterday—and it provides a clear link between fracking and water supply problems.
“Given the results of this work, as well as the significant questions that remained, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recommended that the affected residents “use alternate or treated water supplies… as their source of drinking water.” The agency also recommended that they install vents on their wells and ventilate bathrooms while showering to prevent any possibility of explosive hazards caused by accumulating methane.”

Doco reveals farmers’ coal fight

An American filmmaker shooting a documentary about the environmental and social impacts of Australia’s coal industry, says farmers have little power to stop mining projects.
Mike O’Connell’s documentary records the impacts of the coal industry in Queensland and New South Wales.

State opposition talk tough on CSG

“Country Labor has taken a stand and called on the O’Farrell Government to immediately suspend all Coal Seam Gas exploration licenses before irreparable damage is caused to ground water and aquifers in the Northern Rivers,” Mr Ellem said.
“We have said that until a regulatory framework is in place based on independent scientific research and conclusive evidence, we should not be allowing Coal Seam Gas mining to proceed freely.

US implicates fracking in pollution

The US Environmental Protection Agency for the first time has implicated fracking – a controversial method of improving the productivity of oil and gas wells – for causing groundwater pollution.

Warning on CSG impact ‘ignored’: report

“Internal advice to the Queensland government had warned five years ago that coal-seam gas development was dictated by misplaced “technological optimism” that environmental problems could be solved, when there was no way to assess the industry’s “cumulative impact” on farming and water.”
This is just more instances of professional advice that Anna Bligh ignored. She – and Tony Burke – also ignored Dr Chloe Munro, the Commissioner of the National Water Commission, who warned them of the huge impacts to the GAB.

Resources veteran takes aim at CSG ‘cowboys’

FORMER coal-seam gas mechanical technician Roy Michie, who spent eight years working fracking wells across Australia, claims the industry is dominated by “cowboys” who are subject to substandard regulation.

Coal-seam gas boom puts pressure on governments

Yet it is fair to say the risks here are considerable. As the committee report emphasises, we cannot afford to be reckless with the Great Artesian Basin because it is one of the nation’s most precious natural resources.

Gas projects left under a cloud

GROWING community and political opposition to coal-seam gas production is beginning to make analysts doubt whether yet-to-be approved projects will get up.

Concern builds over chemicals left behind

FOR every “fracked” coal-seam gas well, between 10,000 and 35,000 litres of chemicals are injected into the ground, with up to 40 per cent remaining there.
The CSG industry has talked down the quantity of chemicals used in the process, repeatedly stating the chemicals represent roughly 1 per cent of fracking solution.
The Senate committee into CSG, which delivered an interim report this week, has examined the bulk of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” process. It states that because of the very large volumes of solution involved, “even 1 per cent is still a significant volume”.

Serious errors made in CSG: Heffernan

Farmer and Senator Bill Heffernan discusses the long-awaited and unanimous interim report into the coal seam gas industry, and its stern recommendations.

CSG explorer takes blind NSW farmer to court

A legally blind farmer trying to stop coal seam gas (CSG) exploration on his farm in the NSW Hunter has been taken to the Lands and Environment Court.

Government shuts down parliament to avoid Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill Vote

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham has condemned the O’Farrell Government’s move to cancel this week’s Private Members Business sitting day as a cynical manoeuvre to avoid a vote on the Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill.

Dirty Money – Matthew Benns

We’re all aware of the mining activity going on in Queensland, but what about the dirty side of mining? Matthew Benns, author of ‘The Men Who Killed Qantas’, has a new book out called ‘Dirty Money’ in which he outlines what he claims is the true cost of Australia’s mining boom. Here Matthew Benns begins by talking about who the really big mining companies are in this country.

Who regulates the regulators?

Dr Gavin Mudd, an environmental engineer at Monash University, digs into the trend towards regulatory capture, a phenomenon that allows de facto self regulation for many companies such as miners. Regulatory capture occurs when the regulators lose their independence and their scientific objectivities when regulating a particular industry as a result of moving too close to the industries.

Bill calls for moratorium on CSG mining in NSW

NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham tells Alan Jones about his push for a moratorium on coal seam gas mining in New South Wales.

Report finds CSG water dumped in Qld river

Queensland’s environment minister will investigate claims her department allowed coal seam gas (CSG) water to be dumped into a river in breach of national standards.
An ABC Radio investigation found treated CSG water, containing chemicals and traces of heavy metals, was dumped into the Condamine River in southeast Queensland.

The seam old story springs a leak

Crucially, we have rushed to develop coal seam gas reserves as a cleaner alternative to coal, assuming it will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change. But will coal seam gas reduce emissions? By how much? We don’t actually know.

Quest for coal

Underhanded tactics by a Korean coal mining enterprise has shocked a farm owner who thought he was selling to an agricultural company.

Win for gas blockade as Santos pulls back

COAL seam gas drilling at a flashpoint site on the edge of the Liverpool Plains has been halted after the state’s biggest coal seam gas operator, Santos, backed down, ending a three-week blockade by residents.

The halt came as the O’Farrell government was forced into damage control over coal seam gas exploration after the Minister for Western NSW, Kevin Humphries, appeared to foreshadow a suspension of pilot production across the state.