* * *
While it is a vindication of the community’s concerns about the harmful impacts of coal seam gas mining, today’s announcement by the Baillieu Government of a moratorium on coal seam gas fracking is inadequate to protect Victoria from the negative impacts of coal seam gas development.
Quit Coal campaign spokesperson Shaun Murray said: “While there will be a temporary halt on coal seam gas fracking, companies will still be able to drill for gas across some of Victoria’s best farmland. The announcement offers nothing for farmers in prime agricultural land in Western Victoria, in areas like Bacchus Marsh where farmers face continuing uncertainty over possible development of an export coal mine.”
Dr Merryn Redenbach from Doctors for the Environment Australia said: “Coal seam gas and tight gas drilling inherently risk the contamination of land and groundwater by releasing salt, methane, and naturally occurring carcinogenic chemicals from the coal seam. These chemicals can leak from the seam or drill holes into land and ground water during the extraction process and pose a risk to human and animal health as well to crops, land and water.”
Friends of the Earth campaigns coordinator Cam Walker said: “Coal seam gas mining can produce vast amounts of contaminated waste water, which thus far appears to be inadequately managed. In addition, extraction of coal seam gas can cause damage and depressurisation of aquifers during in the drilling process.
“This announcement fails to improve protection for farmers' rights on their properties. It will also not protect against massive industrialisation of Victoria’s farmland by the coal seam gas industry, with impacts on farmers, crops and cattle from mining encroachment onto farmland.
“A moratorium should immediately be extended to cover all new coal, coal seam gas and tight gas developments, pending appropriate investigations into impacts on agriculture, health, water and communities.”