THE fight to protect the South-East’s crucial aquifers and “clean, green” reputation has turned physical, following the first flaring of gas from a controversial well near Penola. Beach Energy last week tested its Haselgrove-3 conventional gas well, 8km south of the town, after it discovered what could be a “large gas resource” in January. The […]
Lock the Gate Media release 3 June 2016
Polling of 250,000 people confirms public rejection of CSG mining nationally.
Lock the Gate say this should trigger election commitments.
New polling confirms the public has rejected risky unconventional gas drilling and highlights the failure of both major political parties to act on community concerns on the issue in the lead-up to the Federal election.
The ABC has released polling data showing 67% of Australians are opposed to any easing of restrictions on coal seam gas exploration, and that this number had grown since the last Federal election in 2013.
Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator, Phil Laird said, “Clearly, there is widespread rejection of the unconventional gas industry by people across Australia given the profound risks that it poses to water resources and human health.
“This polling of more than 250,000 repondants confirms that opposition to CSG and unconventional gas is a massive issue in the lead-up to the Federal election and that controls on this risky industry need to be tightened not loosened, to address community concerns
“We’re calling on both major political parties to respond by:
• Fully protecting important water sources like Sydney’s drinking water catchment and the Great Artesian Basin in no-go zones.
• Acting urgently to protect human health by creating a national Environment Protection Authority and commissioning national research on health impacts of gas drilling.”
“The CSG industry has been a nightmare for families forced to live with it in Qld. The impacts on health, water and farming communities, as well as regional economies, has been severe.
“People across Australia have learnt the hard lessons from Qld and are saying very clearly that they think Governments must take stronger action against this industry. The time for action is now.
“This new polling also confirms previous regional polling which has shown 70-80% opposition to unconventional gas drilling in various communities across Australia and 96% in door to door surveys in farming districts,” he said.
Lock the Gate Media Release
World’s Longest Highway Protest, All Australian States and Territories
Communities across Australia will take to our highways on June 25, 2016, as part of the world’s longest highway protest, to raise awareness about the risks of coal and unconventional gas mining to water resources in the lead-up to the Federal election.
What: People, colourful banner sand signs along 5,800km of Australia’s highways
When: Saturday 25th June 2016, starting mostly at 10am
Why: To raise awareness of the risks to water and food-producing land, and to encourage motorists to ‘Vote Water Not Gas’, as part of the Water4Life campaign.
People will be stretched across 21 of the nation’s major roads and highways, and will also be active in Mount Gambier, Beachport, Naracoorte, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Hobart, Cairns, Alice Springs and Canberra.
They will encompass numerous key seats including the electorates of Page (NSW), Petrie (Qld), New England (NSW), Barker (SA), Corangamite (Vic), Longman (Qld), Richmond (NSW), and Cowper (NSW).
|New South Wales|
|New England Highway||360|
|Bruce Hwy FNQ||328|
|Warrego Hwy (1 location)|
|Mt Gambier – Penola – Naracoorte (Riddoch Hwy)
Millicent – Beachport – Robe – Kingston (Princess Hwy)
Mt Gambier – Port MacDonnell (Bay Rd)
Eastern entrance to Mt Gambier & western entrance to Mt Gambier (Princess Hwy).
|Princes Highway, the Southern Ports Highway, the Millicent-Beachport Rd, the Robe-Penola Rd., the Adelaide Rd, Millicent, and the Beachport-Penola Rd||10|
|Great Northern Hwy|
|Stuart Hwy, Alice Springs||100|
|Ridgeley Hwy (1 location)|
Independent oil spill modelling from the Great Australian Bight Alliance http://www.fightforthebight.org.au/oil_spill_modelling
If a blowout and spill were to occur in summer, aside from the direct and severe impact in near water, the oil would very likely impact the shores of Western Australia. Simulations show oil contamination could reach as far as Albany and Denmark. Under these conditions, the model predicts that within four months, an area of roughly 213,000km2 would have an 80% chance of having surface oil thickness above levels likely to trigger the closure of fisheries.
If a blowout and spill were to occur in winter, the oil would very likely impact the Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, and Spencer Gulf in South Australia, with simulations showing oil could impact much of the Victorian and Tasmanian coastline, right through the Bass Straight towards New Zealand. Under these conditions, the model predicts that within four months, an area of roughly 265,000km2 would have an 80% chance of having surface oil thickness above levels likely to trigger the closure of fisheries.
People in our state are very proud of the international acclaim for South Australian wine, and South Australian food is recognised widely as being of extremely high quality.
Premium brands such as Haigh’s chocolates, Penfolds Grange wine, Maggie Beer’s produce, Kangaroo Island honey from Ligurian bees, and Balfours frog cakes are all nationally recognised icons and are very dear to us. The popular Tasting Australia food festival celebrates our quality food and wine, showcasing it to the rest of the country. In fact our growing tourism industry is significantly based on the excellent quality of local delicacies.
But the ability to grow premium quality produce in South Australia is becoming increasingly at risk. The expansion of urban housing into food growing regions of South Australia is already placing pressure on farmers and producers of South Australian wine, but another risk looms even larger.
The increasingly aggressive push by the mining industry to expand in SA has caused great concern to many people, and communities in areas such as the Limestone Coast and the Yorke Peninsula are fighting back. A topic of particular concern is the use of fracking in South Australia – the injection of water, sand and chemicals into a coal seam at high pressure to force open rock cracks, allowing gas to escape to the surface. Many believe that this places our fresh water systems and soil health at great risk.
Many people are concerned that the mining industry are threatening the viability of our fragile South Australian food and tourism industries, which we are increasingly dependent upon as our manufacturing sector shrinks. At a time when we are seeking a World Heritage status for the Mount Lofty Ranges, it is hard to understand why the mining industry has been given approval for fracking in South Australia.
The Environmental Defender’s Office (itself under threat because of funding cuts) recently warned that approval has been granted to Bight Petroleum’s Environmental Plan for the conduct of a seismic survey off the coast of Kangaroo Island – one of the state’s prime tourist destinations. There are 22 listed threatened species and 27 migratory species that may be potentially present within the project area covered by the mining exploration approval.
The government’s Roadmap for Unconventional Gas Projects in SA shows that no regions of South Australia are safe from the threat of mineral exploration. At a time when our economy is in a dire condition, allowing the mining industry to put at risk our major assets of tourism and food production seems like a desperate measure.
If you share concerns about this risk to South Australia’s agricultural and economic future, take a look at the web sites for protest groups in the Limestone Coast and Yorke Peninsula. You can also read more about fracking in South Australia on Greens MLC Mark Parnell’s website.
A protest rally and march will be held in Adelaide on Saturday August 2 to save our food bowl, water and tourism, you can read all about this free event on Facebook organised by the Limestone Coast Protection Alliance.
Perhaps it is time to make your voice heard before we pollute and lose our pristine land and sea food growing assets in South Australia?
Meet 9:45am at Parliament House and then 10am march to Victoria Square.
South Australia has only 4.6% agricultural land outside of pastoral areas. Our farming production areas are being invaded by shale gas exploration in the South East of SA, mineral exploration and proposed mining for iron ore, copper and other minerals on Eyre Peninsula and Yorke Peninsula. Plus oil and gas exploration licences are off shore near Kangaroo Island, only around 10 km off our SA coastline.
These exploration and proposed projects are a major threat to our groundwater aquifers, surface water, soil and air. We want to maintain our clean, green food bowl, water and tourism which should be held in trust for generations to come. Currently, land owners in South Australia have virtually NO rights to say NO to mining and petroleum exploration on their properties, even if they don’t want it. This is unfair! We want the laws changed to protect our food bowl.
On Saturday, 2nd August, a rally and march will be held in Adelaide to help support and protect our agricultural, viticultural and ocean communities. We strongly urge everyone in rural areas as well as city areas to come and join us.
9.45 a.m. we will be meeting on the steps of Parliament House. Some short speeches will commence at 10 a.m. followed by a march to Victoria Square. Some short speeches will take place also at Victoria Square. People are encouraged to stay for a picnic lunch or purchase food from nearby.
Please Note: Adelaide City Council CAN NOT park farm vehicles over 8 tonnes. Please bring placards instead.
Contact Anne Daw for more information firstname.lastname@example.org
Is your property covered by a Petroleum Exploration License (PEL)?
Come and speak to us at the South East Field Days 21st & 22nd March to find out more about the mining exploration happening NOW in the Limestone Coast.
A cattle farmer near Penola, in South Australia’s south east, is worried about a strong odour he says is coming from the mud waste of a nearby drilling project.
Beach Energy is looking for shale gas in the area, drilling up to four kilometres below the surface.
But Neil Copping, whose fenceline is 60 metres from the drill, is concerned about the effect the strong ‘rotten eggs’ smell could have on his livestock.
“My cattle are smart enough to stay away from it. When the wind is that way, they seem to be nowhere in the sulphur smell area, they seem to move up to the other end of the farm.
“So as far our concerns go, yes I do wonder if there is danger for animals and obviously for human health.”
South Australia’s Department of Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy has investigated the alleged rotten egg odour at this well site, and has advised that no hydrogen sulphide releases, above normal operating levels at this site, have been detected.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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