Liverpool council rejects coal seam gas

Camden gas project

At a meeting on December 19, Liverpool City Council resolved to oppose the proposed Stage 3 Northern Expansion of the Camden Gas Project (CGP). The council also resolved to make a submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DP&I) outlining its reasons for opposing the project.

The proposed Stage 3 expansion of the of the CGP consists of the development of 11 more drill sites, each with up to six well heads, in an area running from Blairmont in the south to Denham Court in the north, in south west Sydney.

Coal seam gas (CSG) mining is a new industry in Australia, having a history of about only 11 years. The medium to long term impacts of the industry are therefore largely unknown. However, the environmental risks of CSG mining have been well established.

Liverpool Council identified six reasons for opposing the development, including the proximity of the CSG drill sites to residential properties, the potential for contamination of surface water, the potential for contamination of groundwater, the potential environmental and health impacts of gas migration, greenhouse gas emission implications of the proposed development and the potential for subsidence.

“Taking into account the acknowledged environmental risks associated with coal seam gas mining, along with the uncertainty of the long-term environmental impacts of the industry, Council believes that it is inappropriate for the CGP to be expanded in such close proximity to existing and planned residential areas,” the council’s submission to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DP&I) read.

The council noted that the Mineral Resources Act in Queensland prevents CSG developments within 2 kilometres of urban areas, yet in NSW no such restrictions exist.

Liverpool Council’s submission went on to express concern regarding the threat of environmental pollution posed by CSG mining, particularly the contamination of surface water and ground water from the highly saline water that must be extracted from the coal seam to liberate the coal seam gas for processing.

AGL, the owner and developer of the Camden CSG project, proposes to store the highly saline water in lined but uncovered pits near the drill sites after extraction. The threat of contamination of nearby creeks, which flow to the Nepean and Georges Rivers, was real.

In addition, the extraction of the highly saline water from the coal seam could contaminate ground water contained in subterranean aquifers, making these crucial sources of potable water unusable.

Liverpool Council also noted the threat of gas migration. Referencing a recent study conducted by scientists from Southern Cross University at the Tara gas field in Queensland, the council noted that fugitive gas emissions could be far higher than previously thought, and that such emissions could
have serious health effects on nearby residents.

The submission also noted a recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald, which indicated that greenhouse gas emissions from CSG mining could be up to four times greater than previously reported. The council also noted the threat of subsidence.

Liverpool City Council is controlled by a Liberal majority since the local government election in September last year. Yet while the Liberal NSW government pursues CSG mining in a frenzy, the Liberal-dominated council unanimously voted to reject the expansion of CSG mining out of concern for its environmental impacts.

Those wishing to make a submission on the proposed expansion can do so online from February 2 to 6.

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