A NEWCASTLE City Council-owned waste facility has been receiving contaminated coal seam gas waste from far-west NSW, and little is known about where it ends up.
Environmental Protection Authority documents from 2013 accessed by the Newcastle Herald reveal the council-owned Summerhill Waste Depot was the destination for contaminated soil and waste from the Santos Gas Project in the Pilliga Forest.
Santos says the waste includes ‘‘soil, sediment and pond liner materials’’ removed as part of its $17million rehabilitation of the site following its takeover from Eastern Star Gas in 2011.
But the council won’t say what happened to the waste when it got to Summerhill, where it ended up, or whether it is still receiving the waste.
A spokeswoman said in a statement that Summerhill ‘‘operates as a landfill facility with basic recycling activities’’ and is ‘‘not a treatment facility for contaminated wastes’’, but did not say where the waste ended up.
‘‘Council is not prepared to discuss any commercially confidential arrangements it has with any of the customers that use the Summerhill Waste Management Centre, this includes any details around waste and revenue receipts,’’ the spokeswoman said.
‘‘In regards to soil-based materials, any soils that have the potential to contain contaminants must be tested by suitably qualified persons against the NSW EPA’s waste classification guidelines to ensure they are suitable for disposal at Summerhill or any other licensed waste facility,’’ she said.
It’s the latest in a series of revelations about the destination of coal seam gas waste in NSW.
Last month the Herald revealed waste water contractor Transpacific had received at least 50,000 litres of waste water from the same Santos-owned site, prompting an investigation from Hunter Water.
It came after Transpacific was previously issued with a $30,000 charge from Hunter Water for releasing a contaminated substance into the sewer network.
In a full-page advertisement in today’s Herald, AGL states there was no $30,000 fine issued.
In its initial statement to the Herald, Hunter Water said it had issued a $30,000 ‘‘penalty’’ and then re-worded that to call it a ‘‘tradewaste charge’’.
The advertisement also stated that ‘‘at no stage has flow-back water been ‘dumped’ into the Hunter Water sewerage system. Rather, it has been treated at a facility licensed by the EPA, and as far as AGL is aware, lawfully disposed of.’’
The Herald has seen correspondence from Hunter Water to AGL requesting it to inform contractors like Transpacific that it would not accept the disposal of coal seam gas groundwater into its facilities.
COAL seam gas waste water from AGL’s Gloucester Waukivory pilot project will no longer be treated in the Hunter.
On Monday, energy firm AGL released a statement saying it had made ‘‘alternative arrangements’’ for the transportation and treatment of flow-back water from its Waukivory Pilot, part of the Gloucester Gas Project.
‘‘From today, the flow-back water retrieved after the hydraulic fracturing process will be transported by Worth Recycling to its NSW Environment Protection Authority licensed waste treatment facility in Sydney,’’ the statement read.
‘‘Under our agreement with Worth Recycling the water will be treated and 100 per cent recycled for industrial uses.’’
It comes after the company previously treating the water on Kooragang Island — Transpacific — ceased its partnership with AGL while it sorted out ‘‘operational issues’’ with the region’s water authority, Hunter Water.