Updated: November 15, 2011
CSG inquiry to hear that Pilliga frogs were killed by CSG saline brine
The Wilderness Society (Newcastle) Inc.
16 November 2011
Environment groups will be presenting evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry in Narrabri today that the coal seam gas industry is a polluting industry that is not in control of the wastes it produces.
Groups have received a response from the NSW Department of Trade, Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services (DTIRIS) admitting that the dead frogs reported two weeks ago in the Pilliga were 'likely' to have been killed by saline brine in a coal seam gas pond.
On the second matter reported, dead trees adjoining a coal seam gas water treatment works, the Department has admitted that more than an acre of trees has been affected by dieback but suggests that the cause is 'unknown'.
Environment groups say the response raises serious issues about the systemic failure of compliance and enforcement of coal seam gas operations in NSW.
"DTIRIS has admitted the frogs were 'likely' to have been killed by saline brine, but then claim that it doesn't constitute 'significant environmental harm'" said Carmel Flint, spokesperson for the Northern Inland Council for the Environment.
"This is just one coal seam gas well in an area where 1,100 wells are proposed - 8 dead frogs per well equates to 8,800 dead frogs across the Pilliga. We wonder if the Department would consider that significant?
"The drilling fluids that are being used, including potassium chloride, are highly toxic and in this case they have been released into a poorly constructed pond left open to wildlife for a month".
The Department did not visit the site of the frog deaths, but left it to Eastern Star Gas to self-report. Eastern Star Gas has been tasked with testing the water in the pond, which it has now filled in, itself.
"The response from the Department in relation to recent tree dieback at a separate site is just as bad. They say that Eastern Star Gas and FNSW are now planning on cutting the dead trees down" said Prue Bodsworth of The Wilderness Society Newcastle.
"We're amazed that the Department would effectively allow the evidence to be destroyed when the cause of the dieback is still unknown.
"These complaints have highlighted several major problems with the compliance regime in NSW, including that:
- The fox is in charge of the henhouse, because DTIRIS is the agency charged with expanding and promoting the industry, as well as regulating it
- The resources are manifestly inadequate to conduct the compliance required
- There is a heavy reliance on self-reporting and self-assessment, even in response to specific complaints"
Information or comment:
Carmel Flint 0400 521 474
Prue Bodsworth 0427 417 870
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society Newcastle Inc
Hunter Heritage Centre,
90 Hunter Street,
Newcastle, NSW, 2300
Phone: 02 4929 4395