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Hansard: Legislative Council 10 August 2011

Coal Seam Gas Exploration

Speakers Buckingham The Hon Jeremy
Business Adjournment, ADJ

COAL SEAM GAS EXPLORATION

Page: 4088

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM [6.31 p.m.]: Members will recall the AGL coal seam gas well blowout that occurred on 17 May at the AGL Sugarloaf 3 coal seam gas well at Camden in south-west Sydney, adjacent to the suburb of Glen Alpine.

While talking on site to some landholders, members of the Scenic Hills Association and others concerned about coal seam gas extraction and preparing a video to put on the website, lo and behold a coal seam gas well behind me exploded suddenly.

The Hon. Rick Colless: All by itself?

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: I had nothing to do with it. It started spewing into the air an unknown thick, white foam substance. The substance being ejected gradually became a liquid aerosol and drifted towards the suburb of Glen Alpine.

Members should listen because they will have to form a view about this issue. Given the widely known toxic chemicals used in coal seam gas drilling, and the proximity of the well to the suburbs and drinking water infrastructure of Sydney, I was concerned about the incident. I raised my concerns in this Chamber, with government departments and in the community.

On 27 May, in response to a question from me, Minister Greg Pearce informed the House that an interdepartmental investigation headed by the Office of Environment and Heritage was underway. Members will be interested to know that, after some prompting, we have a result.

The Office of Environment and Heritage sent a warning letter to AGL stating:

The OEH has determined that the degasser unit was not being operated in a proper and efficient manner.

The regulator, being the Office of Environment and Heritage, stated:

[that it] reminds AGL that all breaches of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 are taken very seriously.

An appropriate regulatory response to this incident is to issue a formal official warning to AGL Upstream Investments.
Further, the Office of Environment and Heritage determined that:

AGL had been remiss in their management of the CSG bore well.
Members may consider that this is the end of the matter but, unfortunately, I do not believe that is so. We are yet to see the analysis of exactly what was in the foam that was discharged over the suburbs of Campbelltown.

However, that analysis is dependent on AGL's own investigation because independent soil sampling was undertaken by consultants for AGL.

That is not good enough and is simply indicative of how this industry has been rolled out across the State with numerous other similar instances. The Camden matter would not have been brought to the attention of the Office of Environment and Heritage or the community had I not been present.

The same can be said about the Pilliga issue. Members opposite might be interested to know that the claim against me and my office of somehow being involved in tampering with something has been put to bed.

I am informed that a number of departmental representatives, as well as senators, as part of their Senate inquiry, visited the site and saw exactly what I saw. It is inappropriate that this industry is self-regulated.

The process has not been proven to be safe and the community has grave concerns about it. I congratulate the Government on supporting the inquiry into coal seam gas exploration and extraction by General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5.

Belatedly, today the Labor Party has announced a task force into the coal seam gas strategy. After rolling out coal seam gas projects across the State it now has decided to have a task force headed by—

The Hon. Jennifer Gardiner: Who's on it? Ian Macdonald and Tony Kelly?

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: No, not former Ministers Tony Kelly and Ian Macdonald. I believe the Hon. Luke Foley and the Hon. Steve Whan have taken a particular interest in the inquiry.

They have just discovered the issue. I am sure that Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5 will unearth some issues as it travels around the State conducting its inquiry.

Ultimately, the Labor Party and this Parliament will make a decision.

The industry should be subjected to a moratorium while the inquiry is underway because these issues are occurring across the State.

Hansard: Coal Seam Gas Exploration
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Camden Gas Project environmental performance satisfactory

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 AGL Press release

An independent environmental audit conducted between 1 July 2010 and 30 June 2012 for AGL Energy Limited's (AGL) Camden Gas Project in southwest Sydney has found its environmental performance to be generally satisfactory and in accordance with statutory requirements.

The Independent Environmental Audit 2010 - 2012,conductedby consultants Treo Environment, identified some non-conformance with approval conditions, which AGL is addressing.

The audit also found that five percent of non-conformance items were administrative in nature and of the three percent that related to the environment, none caused actual or potential environmental harm.

One example of non-conformance was not continuously monitoring air emissions, which was identified by AGL in 2012 and reported to the community and regulators. AGL commenced actions to rectify this non-conformance on 15 August 2012 including purchase, installation and operation of a new Continuous Emissions Monitoring System for compressor unit one, and consultation with the New South Wales EPA in relation to potential alternative monitoring methods for compressor units two and three.

The report also concluded that environmental performance may be improved by ensuring more monitoring requirements are completed in accordance with approved programs and conditions of consent.[1]

AGL's Upstream Gas Head of Community Relations, Julie Delvecchio, said that while the audit confirms that the Camden Gas Project's environmental performance is satisfactory, the non-conformances are disappointing for AGL.

We strive to deliver 100 percent compliance to fulfil our obligation to the community, to our stakeholders and to the environment.

Our focus has been to quickly respond to the audit findings and we have progressed or completed actions to address 100 percent of the audit report recommendations, including new continuous air emissions monitoring equipment and improvements to the Compliance Management System.

AGL is committed to sharing information with the Camden community and we will provide a further update on these actions to the Community Consultative Committee and to the wider community in three months," said Ms Delvecchio.

To learn more about AGL's Camden Gas Project, visit agl.com.au/camden.
[1] Treo Environment, Independent Environmental Audit 2010 - 2012, page 6.
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