CSG threat drops
THE prospect of a coal seam gas industry developing in South Gippsland has reduced, in the wake of a State Government report finding no evidence of tight or shale gas in the region.
“It just reinforces what I have always said that there is unlikely to be any viable gas in some areas,” Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said.
Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North spokesperson Marg Thomas said while there was no evidence of tight or shale gas around South Gippsland, but there was in Seaspray.
Any CSG mining there could impact further afield, she said.
“What the report probably hasn’t taken into account is that fissures may eventually connect water to the deep drilling for tight/shale gas,” she said.
“There is too much at stake. We have such vibrant industries already that are doing wonderful business. Why would we risk it?”
The report also found coal seam gas development in Gippsland could lower the water table by more than 15 metres, impacting on water users and the environment.
The same study suggests the other types of unconventional gas (tight and shale) would only have a low impact on groundwater levels.
The Gippsland region synthesis report said groundwater modelling supports the idea there is connectivity between coal seam gas and groundwater resources in Gippsland.
The report was released by the State Government last Wednesday along with its own submission to an inquiry into unconventional gas development in Victoria.
“Given the close proximity of the coal seam gas resources to major regional aquifers, coal seam gas has the most potential to impact on water users and ecosystems,” the report said.
Ms Thomas said the impact of coal seam gas on Gippsland’s water table was worse than the group thought it would be.
“It would be reduced dramatically. We already have problems in times of low rainfall and drought, so I really think it will significantly impact on farmers,” she said.
The government’s own submission stated there are few reliable estimates of CSG resources in Victoria.
“According to the report we don’t know the extent of the CSG industry so why take the risk?” Ms Thomas said.
The report stated the impact of tight and shale gas extraction on Gippsland’s water table was low “because the predicted changes to groundwater levels are within historical ranges for the region”.
Ms Thomas said any gas mined in Victoria would be for export.
“Communities aren’t going to gain anything from it. There is very little benefit and even if there is a low risk, we still wouldn’t find it acceptable,” she said.
The report said with respect to coal seam gas, hydraulic fracturing was not expected to be required in the coal seams in Gippsland and therefore there was no potential for associated chemical contamination of groundwater.
Ms Thomas said whether fracking is required or not, communities would still have to deal with the infrastructure and the drawdown of water.
“It’s not just the fracking we are worried about; it is the whole industry,” she said.
Ms Thomas said she hoped the report would show the government there was too much stake for little benefit in developing the unconventional gas industry in Victoria.
“We have got fantastic alternative energy potential and we are trying to get away from the fossil fuel industry,” she said.
“We need to take a look at encouraging the renewable energy industry, rather than backing the short term fossil fuel industry.”
Ms Thomas said more than 60 communities had declared themselves coal and gas free.
“We are not going to put up with it. We are going to stop it. People are pretty firm about that,” she said.
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