Battle for water future is far from over: Clean water action group

ANYONE who thinks the threats to the Manning Valley and our water supply from coal seam gas are over is apparently "deluded", according to president of the Manning Clean Water Action Group (MCWAG) Chris Sheed.

"This was just one of the sentiments being expressed in Gloucester last Friday where energy giant AGL, is seeking approval from the State government to hydraulically frack four pilot gas wells on the Avon River floodplain for coal seam gas.

"The Avon River flows into the Manning River and is part of the Manning Valley catchment, the water supply for over 70,000 people downstream.

"The four wells are just the first of 330 proposed for the Gloucester gas field," said Mr Sheed.

"Gloucester Groundswell representatives along with concerned farmers, residents and community groups including MCWAG and Gloucester council representatives met last Friday with senior State government regulating authorities, including the Office of Coal Seam Gas, the Environment Protection Agency, the Office of Water and the NSW water commissioner," he said.

"It was made clear to the regulators that AGL's Review of Environmental Factors (REF) submitted with the application to frack the Manning River catchment is seriously substandard.

"Furthermore, legal advice suggests a full environmental impact statement may be required from AGL," Mr Sheed said.

"In a comprehensive and professional response to the REF, aptly entitled Exposing the Risks, the Groundswell Gloucester team have identified a wide range of fundamental flaws and disturbing contradictions and describe the REF as "seriously inadequate."

"Exposing the Risks highlights the numerous hazards associated with AGL's CSG experiment; the toxic chemicals contaminating ground and surface water, the lack of knowledge of the complex hydrogeology of the basin and the health impacts on the community.

"A major concern for the regulators must be AGL's proposal to continue to irrigate fodder with diluted saline and toxic CSG water.

"Where will the 2.1 billion litres per annum of fresh water required to dilute the CSG water at full production come from, and what are the implications for the food chain for animals being fed the potentially toxic fodder?" Mr Sheed asked.

"The regulators were urged to recognise that the cumulative risks associated with AGL's project are too great for it to proceed.

"Risk mitigation and adaptive management are not what the community want. They want AGL out!

"The AGL board will shortly be making a final decision on whether the Gloucester gas field goes ahead.

"MCWAG will continue to work cooperatively with the community and AGL shareholders to make sure the board says no.

"We believe it is imperative that AGL provide a copy of the Exposing the Risks report on their Australian Stock Exchange website," said Mr Sheed.

"MCWAG and our partners will be releasing further information regarding the dangers associated with AGL's Gloucester gas field. "

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