Experts warn CSG will impact on matters of national environmental significance
Landholder group Basin Sustainability Alliance is urging the Federal Government to seriously heed the advice of an expert scientific committee which has highlighted the serious impact CSG activities pose to surface and underground water, and aquatic life and native species.
Chairman David Hamilton said the BSA felt vindicated because the concerns raised by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining (IESC) in relation to the Arrow Energy Surat Gas Project were the same concerns BSA had been raising for years.
“The large increase in the take of water from aquifers seems to be unsustainable – in the driest country on earth, we must not sacrifice our underground water for a short-term financial gain.”
The lack of conclusive groundwater modelling, gaps in field research, potential to impact on areas of national significance, tonnes of salt being brought to the surface, groundwater drawdown predictions, and potential for well failure during construction were among the concerns highlighted.
Mr Hamilton also said the report drew attention to the fact that there was still not enough understanding and modelling of likely groundwater drawdowns to be sure what impact CSG activities will have.
“We have been very anxious about the effect this is going to have on the Great Artesian Basin and now we are seeing areas like Lake Broadwater, which is a nationally listed wetland, in the firing line.
We strongly support the IESC’s recommendation that field based research be undertaken to better assess the groundwater-surface water relationships .
The written advice IESC issued to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities on 20 February states the Arrow project has the potential to impact on Matters of National Environmental Significance through changes to surface water hydrology and water quality, and changes to groundwater hydrology.
“The IESC is quite right to question Arrow Energy’s Surat Gas Project’s Environmental Impact Statement. We concur that the modelling undertaken is inadequate and includes a number of limitations.
“Government and industry simply can’t keep ignoring the advice of experts who tell us that there are too many gaps in the science to fully understand what impact this industry will have on our future generations,” Mr Hamilton said.
“The water is too precious to take unnecessary risks.”
The IESC advice statement can be found at http://www.environment.gov.au/coal-seam-gas-mining/project-advice/index.html