SOME assertions made by AGL's public relations department in regard to its Gloucester Gas Project should be challenged.
Let us start with the need for the project at all. AGL claims that we need the gas from Gloucester for NSW to function.
Australia is the world's second largest exporter of gas and suffers from an embarrassment of riches in gas resources. Indeed, already BHP has claimed that it can supply NSW for the next 30 years from the Bass Strait alone.
The decision to develop Gloucester does not swing on any argument of necessity. We have plenty of gas on the east coast.
AGL claims a thorough, transparent and rigorous process prior to commencement of hydraulically fracturing the four wells at Waukivory. I question whether the company is being honest in its dealings with the public.
Its own independent hydro- geologist has repeatedly warned of the dangers of fracking in the Gloucester basin. Dr Rick Evans has stated that it is likely that the coal seams and the aquifers are linked. This has been publicly stated by AGL's executives as their "biggest fear". Professor Pells, a well-respected independent hydro-geologist has repeatedly stated that the highly faulted geology of the Gloucester basin makes coal seam gas fracking an unacceptably risky proposition in this location.
Despite these warnings from the experts in their field, AGL is persisting with proceeding to apply to frack four wells at Gloucester.
We only have one chance at this. If the aquifers and the coal seams are connected, as AGL's own work suggests, it may be the case it could possibly spell disaster for our water supply on the mid north coast. Aquifers, once fracked, cannot be repaired.
AGL is also using a mine tailings disposal system that does not comply with existing government guidelines and is wholly unacceptable in the 21st century. AGL is diluting and irrigating its contaminated, untreated salty mine tailings on to the river flats at Gloucester. This is in the catchment of the Manning River that supplies 90 per cent of mid north coast water supply.
It claims success with the small yield of 65 tonnes of triticale that it produced. It only irrigated a very small amount of mine tailings water over a short time period. Once in full production, it will be compromising our water supply and, over time, salting the land and rivers.
AGL will be irrigating water that contains around 2500 tonnes of salt a year. No river system can cope with that level of salination.
Finally, AGL claims that its 1000-page Review of Environmental Factors for the Waukivory pilot project has equivalent information to an environmental impact statement. The community has called on AGL to do a full environmental impact statement. One wonders why it is avoiding it.
Bruce Robertson is a Wingham farmer who campaigned against Transgrid’s electricity superhighway proposal in the Manning Valley.