“The poisoning of groundwater near Kingaroy is just the tip of the iceberg with coal seam gas [CSG] extraction”, climate change activist and Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Brisbane Ewan Saunders told Green Left Weekly.
The contamination of groundwater by toxic chemicals was revealed two weeks ago, sparking calls for urgent action against the CSG industry, which is rapidly expanding in south-eastern Queensland.
“Existing environmental protection mechanisms covering the CSG industry are woefully inadequate”, Saunders said. “The state government and industry are well aware of this.
“The Socialist Alliance calls for an immediate stop to all CSG mining in Queensland. This industry is dangerous to the environment and to the people of the area. Why is the Bligh government continuing to pursue energy options that are bad for the climate, bad for farming and bad for our precious groundwater supplies, instead of leading the way in carrying through the renewable energy revolution?”
CSG extraction involves burning coal underground to create gas for power. Cougar Energy's CSG plant near Kingaroy was ordered to suspend operations after traces of the cancer-causing compounds benzene and toluene were found in nearby bores.
Twenty workers were sacked from the plant during the contamination scare. Cougar Energy cited “uncertainty” as a result of the scare as the reason for the lay-offs.