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Submissions needed to halt a dangerous CSG expansion

Posted on 15 February 2011 by Cate

Apex Energy’s coal seam gas (CSG) project in the Illawarra is of particular concern as it is in a Sydney drinking water catchment area. Apex currently has approval for 15 exploration bore holes and has recently applied for an additional borehole which could potentially involve fraccing. 

The Otford, Helensborough and Stanwell Park community group is vigorously opposing the Apex CSG project. Read more and send a letter to the Premier and relevant Ministers and Shadow Ministers on their website here

The application for this additional borehole is currently on exhibition and submissions can be made directly to the Department of Planning. We need as many official submissions opposing the project as possible to make clear to the Minister that our  water resources are too important to risk with dangerous CSG mining. 

*UPDATE* The official submission period has now finished, but you can still contact the department for details on how to make a late submission.

Please follow this link to the Department of Planning website on APEX Energy’s additional borehole modification. 

Some points you may want to include in your submission: 

  • The AI19 borehole is in an important Sydney water catchment area and located in pristine bushland.
  • Extensive bushland clearing will be necessary around the well site
  • Exploration approval will lead to applications for full scale extraction which should never be allowed in the area
  • Coal seam gas extraction and exploration are dangerous. There are proven and serious risks including contamination of groundwater and water supplies as well as the leaching of methane causing carbon emissions and human health impacts.
  • The area is home to threatened species and forms part of an essential remaining wildlife corridor linking the National Parks to the Illawarra Escarpment and Dharawal State Conservation Area.
  • There is potential for the highly dangerous fraccing procedure to be used.

Please make a submission to help stop this expansion of dangerous coal seam gas mining in a Sydney drinking water catchment. 

The modification exhibition ends on 23rd February 2011, although submissions are likely to be accepted for a while after that date. 

Map showing the proximity of Apex Energy's assets to Sydney.

4 Comments For This Post

  1. Chris Rogers - Apex Energy Says:

    The above information is misleading and fundamentally wrong. Would the government issue an exploration licence if the hazards could not be controlled. The Project was approved in consultation with many government and public stakeholders including the Sydney Catchment Authority.

    See below (statement in main article answered):

    The AI19 borehole is in an important Sydney water catchment area and located in pristine bushland.

    Apex answer – The above statement true. However, AI19 is one extra borehole in a pre-approved project. Thousand of similar holes to AI19 have already been drilled in the area. They are being drilled by other companies right now. Regardsing the Apex project, not all sites are pristine. Some are old coal mine and quarry areas. Others are accessed by existing tracks and easements. The project was approved based on environmental sustainability and social responsibility. 15 borehole sites are already approved for exploration, some of which are in Sydney Catchment areas.

    Extensive bushland clearing will be necessary around the well site
    Exploration approval will lead to applications for full scale extraction which should never be allowed in the area

    Apex answer – Extensive bush clearing is not required. If one uses the term extensive then one should define its meaning. In addition, all approved boreholes and AI19 are accessed by existing tracks and easements. This is a fundamental point in the EA. The environmental impact of AI19 is very small as detailed in the submission. Read the EA’s objectively and these points will become evident.

    Coal seam gas extraction and exploration are dangerous.

    Apex: What exactly is dangerous – is this a sweeping and emotive statement?

    There are proven and serious risks including contamination of groundwater and water supplies as well as the leaching of methane causing carbon emissions and human health impacts.

    Apex Answer – Wide sweeping statement again, designed to invoke an emotive response – see following link

    http://www.apexenergy.com.au/apex-response-to-stop-csg-illawarra-petition/

    The area is home to threatened species and forms part of an essential remaining wildlife corridor linking the National Parks to the Illawarra Escarpment and Dharawal State Conservation Area.

    Apex – Again a highly subjective and emotive statement designed to provoke a certain response. The Apex EA’s demonstrate the exact environmental impact based on science from experts in flora, fauna, heritage and other environmental fields including hydrogeology.

    There is potential for the highly dangerous fraccing procedure to be used.

    See following links:

    http://www.apexenergy.com.au/

    http://www.apexenergy.com.au/recent-news/uk-house-of-commons-energy-and-climate-change-committee-defends-hydraulic-fracturing-fraccing-or-fracking/

    Fracking is not the issue. The issue is one of well bore control and design. Fracking is a stimulation method only of which there are many. Fracking has been used as a scapegoat. All the adverse publicity arose from the film “Gasland” which focuses on the shale gas industry not CSG. See link below (one of many such articles).

    http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/02/24/24greenwire-groundtruthing-academy-award-nominee-gasland-33228.html?pagewanted=1

    The movie is now know to be a subjective non-documentary designed for political purposes. Taking out all the emotion, how can Australia bridge the considerable gap between coal fired power generation and total renewable generation without the cleaner fuel source know as natural gas (which CSG is). We could have more huge Hydro electric power stations, build wind farms everywhere or perhaps go nuclear. The answer is obvious.

  2. Natasha Watson Says:

    In reply to Chris Rogers – Apex Energy. The majority of PELs in NSW were issued long before the government and communities had any inkling of the environmental risks of coal seam gas, and the Dept of Primary Industries issued many exploration licences for coal seam gas with a simple tick of the box, ‘No EIS is required’.

    In 2002 Minerals Resources Minister Eddie Obeid signed off on PEL 442 for Apex Energy for the South Sydney Basin Illawarra – but I’ve yet to view an indepth EIS to justify that, and the same PEL was renewed by MLC Ian MacDonald in 2008. This same government went into panic late last year, floundering to find out what they had actually been approving in the past decade. Questions and answer emails on the methods of exploration drilling, extraction, waste water, and chemicals clogged the network between DECC, DoP, DPI and the Premiers office. And the penny dropped for many why the legislation to allow petroleum exploration in our state conservation and water catchment areas was pushed quietly through Parliament by 2008.

    For the 15 bore holes already approved, included is approval for clearing 9ha bushland. Given the average Australian home sits on 450sqm, I would consider 90,000 sqm of bushland to be extensive clearing – especially such a region of beautiful forest, high biodiversity and our drinking water catchment, much of which, us mere mortals aren’t allowed to set foot in.

    In respect to the environmental assessments conducted to gain the Major Project approvals, Apex Energy is unable to prove that the region won’t be at risk of contamination, fauna/flora loss, fire hazard, waste water overflow and bush fragmentation. DECCW and the Sydney Catchment Authority were concerned in the 2009 applications and disapproving in Apex’s current application. Given too , that the Environmental Assessments were performed by Apex Energy’s paid contactors, the results cannot be guaranteed impartial. And most would consider any such EAs to be written to a pre-determined positive outcome for the exploration company.

    ‘Fracking is not the issue’ Let’s amend that to, ‘Fracking is not the only issue’ – as risks extend from brine waste and heavy metal ladenwater to noise disturbance. Apex Energy has stated that they won’t be using the usual cocktail of ‘household’ chemicals used by many other csg companies, just KPI. But what happens if they don’t inject the usual lubricants and anti-corrosives ? will the bore casings be vulnerable to breakdown and leakage?

    It come across as simple mining industry spin, to blame the Gasland movie as responsible for such anger and protest at the coal seam gas industry. Gaslands certainly did ignite the public’s interest and emotion, but before it came to our shores, communities such as the Hunter Valley and farms across the Great Artesian Basin were already suffering the negative consequences of the sprawling gas industry, and rallying forces to try and stop it.
    As such, the in depth and world wide research by so many impacted communities, farmland and concerned environmental bodies is making gas industry and governments accountable.
    Of course we need more and practical renewable energy resources. But to tout coal seam gas as ‘environmentally friendly or clean’ or the exploration companies as being altruistic in their endeavours to provide us energy, rather than seeking a high return on investment is just laughable.

  3. Link Says:

    “Flames exploding from kitchen taps. Livestock dropping dead from tainted water. People in small towns noticing an unusual stench, experiencing acute headaches, and blacking out.

    These aren’t scenes from a horror movie. They’re the increasingly common results of natural gas drilling throughout the United States.”

    . . “Fracking requires large quantities of water and a cocktail of toxic chemicals that have been shown to poison water resources in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

    To date, at least 1,000 cases of water contamination have been documented near drilling sites around the country. In some cases, residents can no longer drink from their taps, and in at least one instance, a home near a fracking site exploded after a gas well leaked methane into its tap water.

    Fracking can also compromise air quality. People in Dish, Texas, located near 11 natural gas compression stations, know this from firsthand experience. Residents there complained of headaches and blackouts, a strange odor in the air, and a sudden rash of blindness among their livestock. A private environmental consultant sampled air from Dish and found that it contained high levels of neurotoxins and carcinogens, including benzene.”

    What the people say:

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/06/13-2

    People, water, nature, before profits.

  4. Irmgard Gary Says:

    Thanks for an informative blog post. I always fing it interesting the amount I learn every day. Keep on blogging.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Coal seam gas info hub | Cate Faehrmann Says:

    [...] Apex Energy holds a large exploration licence over the Burragorang and Illawarra regions. They currently have approval to drill 15 exploration bores, and intend to apply for permission to commence full scale extraction in 2011. The project is of particular concern as it is in a key Sydney water catchment area. The Otford, Helensborough and Stanwell Park community group is vigorously opposing it. Submissions are currently being sought on an application for an additional borehole – you can make an official submission opposing it here. [...]

  2. Gas mining in Sydney drinking water catchment | Cate Faehrmann Says:

    [...] It seems too bizarre to be true, but the NSW Government has given approval for coal seam gas mining in a special Sydney drinking water catchment area that is so precious, even bushwalkers are not allowed. There is an expansion proposed for the exploration project, which you can read more about here. [...]

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