Posts

Landline – MUST WATCH video

Watch the Landline Segment here

landline

PIP COURTNEY, PRESENTER: One issue that seems to polarise farming communities more than most others is coal seam gas. An economic saviour to some, others fear the long-term damage the industry could do to underground water supplies. The latest front in this ongoing battle is South Australia, with a proposal to drill exploration wells near prime agricultural land in the state’s south-east. More from Leah MacLennan.

LEAH MACLENNAN, REPORTER: Over the past five years, anti-coal seam gas demonstrations have mostly been restricted to Queensland and NSW.

But the protests are now spilling over the border into SA. These farmers and environmentalists are trying to stop gas exploration in the state’s south-east.

Beach Energy is putting down test drills near Penola. If it finds gas, the company may have to extract it using hydraulic fracturing – fracking – a technique that uses a pressurised mixture of sand, water and chemicals to tap into underground gas reserves.

REG NELSON, BEACH ENERGY: Well first of all fracking is a term we don’t use because it encompasses so many different things. It’s a process that’s been around since the 1890s, but, as I say, it covers so many things and it’s evolved in so many different ways. What we’re looking to do, possibly, is to apply very precise fracture stimulation to the deep rocks at probably four kilometres depth.

LEAH MACLENNAN: If this so-called unconventional gas extraction goes ahead, it will be the first time the technique has been used in an agricultural area in SA, and that’s angered some of the locals.

Over the last six years, Anne Daw has gone from south-east landowner to anti-mining lobbyist.

ANNE DAW, ANTI-MINING CAMPAIGNER: We only have 4.6 per cent agricultural prime land and cropping land left in the whole state outside of pastoral areas and that is not much to ask to be preserved and exempt from mining petroleum and unconventional gas.

LEAH MACLENNAN: The protest movement has drawn the attention of non-Government MPs in the South Australian Parliament, who are pushing for new laws to restrict fracking and mining in agricultural areas.

ROBERT BROKENSHIRE, SA FAMILY FIRST MP: And we need to address it before we lose our best agricultural land. Some say the Mining Act is balanced; I say that the Mining Act is in favour of mining and makes it difficult for farmers. I’m arguing that in the state’s interests, you know, we – Family First are not anti-mining, but we say there are places where you can mine and places where you should be able to unquestionably proceed with farming.

LEAH MACLENNAN: But the State Government isn’t interested. It argues there are sufficient safeguards overseen by the Environment, Resources and Development, or ERD, Court.

TOM KOUTSANTONIS, SA MINISTER FOR MINERAL RESOURCES: Prime agricultural land is exempt from the Mining Act, but people can, if they find resources, go to the ERD Court and have that, of course, overturned. And that’s right, and that’s the right thing to do because you can have multiple land use principles that do show that mining and farming can co-exist.

LEAH MACLENNAN: That’s of little comfort to people like Jack England, a third-generation farmer near Kingston, and he’s the vice-chair of Livestock SA.

JACK ENGLAND, LIVESTOCK SA: Some farmers will probably want to sell out and they’re quite pro-mining and there are others that are against it. So we have to be careful that we represent the interests of all farmers, make sure all the drilling, if it goes ahead, is Mickey Mouse and they do the right thing in terms of biosecurity, sort of equity for farms and that sort of thing.

LEAH MACLENNAN: The biggest concern for farmers is the potential impact of deep drilling, mining and hydraulic fracturing on aquifers.

JACK ENGLAND: The best thing about the south-east down here is we can drill a hole, dig a hole and we either have a well or into the sub-Artesian Basin and we’ve got water for our livestock and/or irrigation and the wine crops as well. So that’s the most stable resource that we’ve got down here and we certainly want to protect it as much as possible.

LEAH MACLENNAN: Any threat to aquifers is of great concern to the local wine industry.

DENNIS VICE, HIGHBANK WINES: We know for a fact that there are three aquifers. We’re actually standing just a matter of a few feet above the first aquifer and it’s a very unique situation in vineyard areas around the country.

LEAH MACLENNAN: Dennis Vice makes organic wine from his vineyards in Coonawarra and he’s deeply worried about Beach Energy’s exploration drills.

DENNIS VICE: Beach conducted a local meeting here and invited everyone to come along to kind of put their position forward, and I think from then on people began to realise that it was a reality, that they were really seriously going to do exploratory wells and put wells down through the aquifers, trying again to use the fracking technique to be able to extract gas from these wells that are tremendously deep.

LEAH MACLENNAN: Because the wells will go through aquifers, locals want to make sure there’s no leaking or contamination.

REG NELSON: What we will do, and this is part of our normal practice, is to drill and case those aquifers so that they’re entirely separated before we drill and possibly encounter any gas. Now I say this because people have drilled there and we have drilled there for so-called conventional gas and made gas discoveries and there’s been no detriment.

LEAH MACLENNAN: This is not the first time there’s been mineral exploration in the region.

Debbie Nulty’s farm adjoins Anne Daw’s property. In the early 1980s, Western Mining explored this area for brown coal. The pair say this old drill well is an example of what can go wrong.

DEBBIE NULTY, FARMER: We noticed that it was falling away from the side and we were concerned about the aquifer.

LEAH MACLENNAN: Beach Energy says it wouldn’t leave its wells in such a state, using this photo as an example of one of their rehabilitated drill holes.

REG NELSON: I’ve been farming most of my life in various areas, presently broadacre cropping. I’ve lived in rural communities, I empathise with rural communities. I believe in the Golden Rule, you know: do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.

LEAH MACLENNAN: Initially the Nultys were told they would have to rehabilitate the well themselves, and if they didn’t, they could face a $15,000 fine.

And how much would it have cost you to rehabilitate yourself?

DEBBIE NULTY: I’m not sure about the costs because in my mind it wasn’t my drill hole and I really hadn’t even thought that I was ever going to fix the drill hole. It would have been – I would have, yes, yelled from the treetops before I would have fixed it, basically.

LEAH MACLENNAN: After long negotiations, the Government agreed to fix the dilapidated well.

It’s a small victory for Debbie Nulty and for Anne Daw, but these two women are fighting a much longer battle: trying to stop mining on agricultural land altogether.

Sidoarjo (Indonesia) mud flow – caused by Natural Gas drilling

Indonesian Mud Volcano due to Fracking

Amazing that it took 5 years for the majority of scientists to agree it was caused by drilling for gas – and that Santos paid a princely sum of about $22M to get out of it. To date I don’t think any compensation has been paid to all those home owners !

400px-Sidoarjo_Mud_Flow

Doctors won’t know long-term health effects of unconventional drilling – says GP

citizenslockthegate

Following her interview on 5THE FM on Friday 21st February, Dr Catherine Pye addressed the meeting arranged by Millicent Field Naturalist Society and the Limestone Coast Strike Out Alliance, in Millicent.  Dr Pye has lived in Mt Gambier for 23 years, has been a GP for 16 years  and a Locum for 17 years, and is actively involved in advocacy for health. She said she is concerned that doctors will not   know what the long-term health effects of unconventional drilling will be with in the community.

Rosie Pounsett from Millicent Field Nats welcomed 60 members of the community attending the meeting which was held to create awareness about unconventional drilling. Charmaine Taylor Symes, business owner from Penola, said in describing the film;  it is an Australian Film,  what happened to Australians and  said,” I believe that this film is – rather than being overstated, it is understated, in describing the adverse affects unconventional drilling can have on a community both economically and on their health.”

Millicent Alliance Film Night 4

The film ‘A Fractured County  ‘ – An Unconventional Invasion was screened and questions were welcomed from the floor. The film featured Australians whose lives and health has been affected for ever.  Creek water igniting, tap water igniting, children’s nose bleeds, and children’s skin chemical burns from bath water were among some of the adverse affects shown.

Dr Pye said:- “We need a healthy environment,  and healthy water for our communities to be healthy overall and anything that could endanger  these seriously concerns me,” she said.  “I understand that the whole of the lower South East of SA is covered by an exploration licence. They have drilled south of Penola and will soon drill north/west of Penola. These are test wells, not fracking, but they drill down through our aquifers to a depth of about four kilometers and I am concerned about the integrity of the well. If this fails it can release chemicals into the aquifers.”

Dr Pye said, “if they go ahead the landscape will change considerably. A shale gas field is a vast network of oil pads, roads, pipes, compressor stations and flair pits. Wells can be just five kilometres apart and if there are hundreds or thousands of wells across the South East it will devastate the landscape.” When asked about our farmers and their rights, Dr Pye said, ” Farmers have no rights, they can say they don’t want drilling but ultimately the farmer has no rights in South Australia.” “Fracking is a process that involves forcing chemicals underground and this is not the only concern, it is the chemicals that are released from underground too,” she said.

Each drill hole uses up to 14,7000,000 litres of water and 56,800 litres of chemicals and proppants are used. The same chemicals are used for fracking shale and for coal. In a report from the United States it was reported that 944 products are used to frack, 633 of them are chemicals. Three quarters of these could affect eyes, skin, kidneys, brain and a quarter of them could cause cancer.
In Australia there are about 60 chemicals used and Dr Pye said as a doctor she is concerned about what they are.

“Chemicals used in fracking have to be disclosed in Western Australia but not in South Australia, and as doctors we need to know what is being used and potentially what patients may have been
exposed to when they present at our surgeries and emergency departments.” “Reports from Wyoming show household water is now black and can’t be used. Drinking water has to be trucked in for the whole town.” “In Queensland symptoms appearing  include nose bleeds, headaches and school problems.”

“The Robe Council is supporting a moratorium and we hope that all councils in the South East will do the same,” she said.

Millicent Alliance Film Night 6

Dr Pye has a special interest in mental health and said a recent paper by a psychologist in the Hunter Valley, where fracking is taking place, says that the uncertainty and stress alone can have an effect on mental health. “I am a strong believer in community and health is a big part of that,” she said. Fracking is a term used to describe the fracturing of underground rock formations with horizontal drilling. This
process is not an old process with years of research to show if it is a safe procedure; it is relatively new, only being used since 2007 in cluster drills. The horizontal  drills have high volume, high pressure water and chemicals forced underground to fracture the rock. Loss of well integrity allows the escape of methane and volatile organic compounds such as benzine (a carcinogen) to escape into the aquifers or air.

It has been reported that particles of chemicals used in this process can travel through the air, landing on roofs, polluting the air and water in communities during the disposal process of the water after the drilling process. Additional concerns about the drilling process are;- heavy machinery traffic, flaring, well integrity failure,  24 hour noise, collapse of the holding ponds releasing toxic overflow into land
and water ways, devaluation of farms and homes, devaluation of houses, escalation of rentals prices making rentals out of the reach of local communities. Most employees in the drilling industry are
fly in fly out and so money is not often spent in the local community.

‘In the Beach Energy Environmental Impact Report, Beach proposes to burn any excess hydrocarbons in a vertical flare. The burning off of gas from a new well releases Hydrogen sulphide, methane and
btex chemicals (benzine, toluene, ethylbezine, xylene) into the air, as well as mercury, arsenic, and chromium. The USA banned flaring after January 2015.’(provided by the Dr Pye  encourages communities to contact their councils and ask for a four year moratorium on unconventional drilling, to allow time for further research into the safety of this process. Landholders were encouraged to put ‘Lock the Gate’ signs on their gates as a peaceful non-cooperation that shows companies and the government that landholders are determined to protect their land, water and health from inappropriate mining.

One of the concerned people attending the meeting,  Barbara Cameron of Beachport  said, ” Good planets are hard to find, we need to protect the one we have. If our water supply is damaged and we
don’t have water – we have nothing.”

Two closed meetings are arranged for March 11th with Wattle Range Council in Millicent and SELGA in Penola. Representatives from Beach Energy, DMITRE, DEWNR, Anne Daw, and Dr Gavin Mudd will be in attendance at both meetings. There will be no health representation at the SELGA meeting, but there will be at the Wattle Range meeting.
Click here to view the film The Fractured Country

Millicent Alliance Film Night 5  Millicent Alliance Film Night 3 Millicent Alliance Film Night 2

 

Coal seam gas industry’s solution to underground pollution is to bury the proof

Coal seam gas industry’s solution to underground pollution is to bury the proof – article in the Sydney Morning Herald 28th Feb 2014.

A to-the-point quote “In Wyoming, we have a saying: don’t piss on my head and tell me it’s raining.”

EBL-art720-coal-seam-gas-20121118202037636365-620x349

Fracking Information Flyer

Click on the image below to view the Limestone Coast Fracking Information Flyer

frackingflyer

 

Fracking impact warning

Fracking Impact Warning – article in Penola Pennant 26th Feb 2014

penolapennant26Feb2014

Grapes of Wrath – vineyards resist fracking

Grapes of Wrath – vineyards resist fracking – article in The Australian

ONE of the nation’s most prestigious wine regions – the Coonawarra, on South Australia’s Limestone Coast – has emerged as the latest battleground in the conflict between mining interests and agriculturalists.

peterbalnaves

Exxon CEO Comes Out Against Fracking Project Because It Will Affect His Property Values

This falls under the category of ironic!

Exxon CEO Comes Out Against Fracking Project Because It Will Affect His Property Values

exxonceo

Movie Review – Gasland

Water bursting into flames, people felled by mysterious afflictions, corporate malfeasance: Josh Fox’s GasLand is neither a horror film nor a paranoid thriller, but it’s one of the scariest movies of the year. A low-budget, first person independent documentary, the movie is about the allegedly extensive and officially ignored environmental impact felt across a swathe of middle America following the drilling and extraction of natural gas reserves. It will make you think twice about basic fundamentals we take for granted, and remind you how persuasive the cinema can be.

Watch the trailer for the GasLand movie on the SBS website

gaslandmovietrailer

Part One of GasLand on youtube

Part Two of GasLand on youtube

See the followup to GasLands…. ‘the sky is pink’