The Inland Council for the Environment and The Wilderness Society Newcastle released the statement below on January 13.
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Environment groups are calling on Premier Barry O’Farrell to take action and stop coal seam gas work in the Pilliga State Forest, as gas giant Santos today released a statement admitting that 10,000 litres of untreated coal seam gas water spilled into the Pilliga Forest in June 2011.
Environment groups discovered this pollution event in October of 2011 due to significant tree deaths in the area. It was reported to the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services (DTIRIS) who responded that the tree die-back was most likely due to water logging.
Carmel Flint of the Northern Inland Council of the Environment said, “The Governments response to our complaint in October was a complete failure. We reported this spill and they did not act upon it. This highlights the gross inadequacy of self-regulation by coal seam gas companies.
“DTIRIS has a serious conflict of interest with coal seam gas, as they are the agency charged with both promoting and regulating the coal seam gas industry’.
“We are calling on Barry OFarrell to sack the DTIRIS as the coal seam gas regulator and to immediately hand all regulation over to the EPA
“Barry OFarrell has staked his environmental credentials on a strong and independent Environment Protection Agency. Now, O’Farrell must step in and take responsibility for an out of control coal seam gas industry in NSW.
Ms Flint said, “It appears the gas company deliberately hid this pollution event. This is a serious breach of their responsibility to report any serious environmental incidents within 24hours.
Prue Bodsworth of The Wilderness Society Newcastle stated, “The EPA shut down Orica for serious environmental damage, and now they must also shut down Santos operations in the Pilliga while this incident and other recent complaints are investigated.
“This spill is just one of many pollution events in the Pilliga Forest, including discharging treated coal seam gas water high in ammonia and cyanide into local creeks.