Gloucester is awaiting the decision on whether AGL can
start fracking 300m from family homes. AGL want to start
fracking as soon as possible.
AGL’s Gloucester ‘Produced Water’
“A Sham and a Farce!”
Whilst AGL executives are popping champagne corks and patting themselves on the
back celebrating the supposed success of a minor irrigation trial to grow
triticale (a wheat/ Rye crop used for livestock feed) at the Tiedman Farm in
Gloucester using ‘produced water’, pumped from unconventional coal seam methane
gas wells, and stored in large holding dams, the key question which AGL has not
“Where did all the salt go?”
‘Produced Water’ can be toxic, containing Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium,
Copper, Fluoride, Formaldehyde, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, just to name a few, and
usually very high in salt content
The disposal of the ‘produced
water’ and the salt are the two most significant conjunctive albatrosses that
hang around the neck of the CSG Industry. No matter how hard they try and squirm
they just cannot escape the consequences of these substances, and no matter what
cosmetic solutions they come up with, ultimately we the people will either have
to subsidise or we will have to pay for the consequences of their exploitation
and profiteering of unconventional coal seam methane gas extraction in
Where did all the salt go?
You can make any ‘trial’ appear successful if you have the resources and the
multi-million dollar financial backing, and better still, when you don’t really
have to conduct the ‘trial’ through a scientific nor transparent process and you
don’t even have to publish any scientific evidence based results! AGL has not
published any results of the trial!
The critical question is how long can AGL keep growing a crop on that salt laden
land and at what cost? The economics just don’t stack up, let alone the
In our research we have found that a number of companies in the United States
and indeed in other countries have tried this scam, but no-one can make it work
In order to counterbalance the salt, AGL would have to restructure the soil
characteristics which according to independent geo-technical engineer, Professor
Philip Pells, “ would mean adding many hundreds of tonnes of compost, lime
(calcium carbonate), gypsum (calcium sulphate) and zeolite minerals (which
enhances the water retention quality of soils)''.
Irrigation water quality has a
profound effect on soil fertility and chemical properties, especially when
poor-quality irrigation water is used. Soil chemistry and irrigation water
quality (chemistry) are closely related and both must be monitored because all
elements and chemicals will eventually end up in the soil, which will eventually
leach out into our rivers.
But where is the documented, evidence-based literature – AGL has not publicly
Where are the field monitoring results?
Frequent monitoring of water quality, soil fertility/chemical conditions and
tissue nutrient status becomes an important tool for gaining the scientific
information required to make informed science-based management decisions.
It is widely accepted that the sophisticated intricacies of irrigation water
management are becoming more complex and whole ecosystems-oriented science-based
review of irrigation water quality is paramount.
In the long term, this charade is not sustainable neither from an economic nor
an agricultural perspective – it just can’t work as the accumulation of salt
impacts on the mineral balance in the soil, destroying; the health of a
biologically active living soil; the life and health of the millions of living
microorganisms that live in the soil, the insects and the earthworms all die or
AGL has admitted that they only
produced 130 silage bales, which demonstrates that this is not an economic
solution. So the issue just boils down to how can AGL expediently dispose of the
salt from “produced water” without having to pay for the proper treatment and
In the traditions of the gold rush era of the wild west they have dragged out
the flim flam man; the snake oils salesman, to peddle the magic elixir that will
cure all ills; a dilution of produced water with pure fresh water to irrigate
crops; a cosmetic solution that will ultimately ensure that the community will
subsidise the cost of disposing all the produced water and the salt.
AGL has a current licence that now
entitles them to draw 60 megalitres of water for irrigation from the Avon River.
During Stage One of its Gloucester Gas Project, AGL expects to extract between
500 and 700 megalitres of ‘produced water’ per year. If this ‘produced water’ is
to be blended with fresh water and used in irrigation based on the current ratio
of 3:1 then AGL will need to draw up to 2100 megalitres of fresh water from the
Avon or one of the other nearby rivers to dilute the ‘produced water’. This will
have catastrophic consequences on the availability of our water supply, and then
all this polluted salt water will end up in our river systems.
Where did all the salt go?
Any good farmer knows and
understands about Salinity. There are hundreds of books and studies published on
the subject. Salinity is a major problem in Australia, with tens of millions of
dollars thrown at the problem by governments each year, yet AGL wants to
irrigate the Tiedman farm with salt water that will eventually end up in the
When you irrigate with salty water no matter how much you dilute the water, the
salt will either stay in the ground and build up or it will leach back into the
water ways. Even if the salt stays in the ground it will eventually build up to
a level at which point it will leach back into the waterways. In this case the
Avon River, which then will feed into the Manning River. The more you irrigate
and the more water you use the greater the certainty that the salt will find its
way into our pristine waterways. Earlier this year the Manning River Times ran
front page articles heralding the quality of our fresh water. AGL will put our
water quality and eventually the availability of fresh water at risk if they
intend to disperse 2500 tonnes of salt per year (Stage 1) using this method.
If the Government approves a licence for full production to 330 wells then you
can triple the amount of salt and triple the consequences.
Where did all the salt go?
AGL has acknowledged that the salt content in the Avon River is only 200ppm
(parts per million) and they have also admitted that the salt content in
‘produced water’ from unconventional coal seam methane gas wells is 4000ppm, 20
times greater! The salt content from produced water could be even higher and the
salt level in the Avon River could even be lower depending on the climate and
AGL has spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars on this trial. Yet there has
been no real scientific evidence made public. It’s very easy to flash around a
few pictures of green triticale, but for a trial of such environmental and
economic consequence there should have been independent oversight, and
participation from agencies such as the EPA.
Where did all the salt go?
Where is the scientific
This trial lacks scientific credibility. To be an environmentally sustainable
solution their needs to be a great deal of creditable scientific evidence made
publicly available. This has not happened.
AGL has bought very expensive state of the art irrigation equipment. They have
dumped a great deal of money on fertilisers, chemicals, and other inputs to
create the image of success, but there is no documented material made public
about the trial. Nor have they given us any information on the irrigation
process, such as:
•How often did they irrigate with the ‘produced water’?
•How much produced water was used in irrigation?
•The actual salt content of the produced water used in irrigation?
•How much clean water was used and where did it come from?
•Did they also irrigate with just clean water?
•What fertilisers and chemicals did they use?
Where did, the salt go?
For all the money that they have spent on this trial, the yield has been less
than spectacular for a crop of triticale, a crop which was deliberately selected
as it was seen to be salt tolerant.
AGL has not published any scientific nor evidenced based information on the
nutritional content of the triticale. Is it any good? This could have been
easily achieved through the testing of the nutritional value of the triticale.
You can grow a salty crop but does it have any nutritional value?
History records that civilization’s have developed, thrived and died on the
availability of water.
In biblical times, salting the earth, or sowing with salt, is the ritual of
spreading salt on conquered cities to symbolize a curse on its re-inhabitation,
in The Book of Judges (9:45), ‘Abimelech, the judge of the Israelites sowed his
own capital Shechem with salt (ca. 1050 BC) after quelling a revolt’.
Now in this 21st Century it seems the NSW Government views the people of the
Gloucester and Manning Valleys as the enemy and it is quite prepared to condemn
our communities to the curse of the salt; allowing AGL to salt the land around
the Tiedman Farm and the Avon River, and to allow AGL to have a cheap solution
to dispose of it’s ‘produced water’ and the salt. A solution that will
ultimately harm the land, our waterways, our supplies of freshwater, so that
there will be nothing left for future generations, and the indecency of it all
is that we, the people, will have to pay for the consequences and the
remediation (if its at all possible).
Where has all the salt gone?
Where are the In-field soil salinity (ECe) measurements?
Where are the In-field irrigation water salinity (ECw) measurements?
Where are the Leachate / drainage water salinity (ECw) measurements?
Where are the In-field irrigation water test for suspended solids results?
Where are the In-field sodicity testing of soil and irrigation water results?
Where are the Bulk soil electrical conductivity testing results?
Where are the Mobile Electromagnetic Induction (EM) Sensors testing results?
AGL is really desperate to find and hang onto anything that may help them to
avoid scrutiny over the disposal of ‘produced water and the salt’, and to reduce
the political pressure and limit intervention. Clearly, they need to arm the
State politicians and bureaucrats with anything that may deflect public
criticism from the consequences of unconventional coal seam methane gas
We have just been through a period drought; streams and creeks dried up, we have
had water shortages, many people on the land have had to buy in water, but AGL
wants to be entitled to draw up to 2100 megalitres of water from the Avon River
to dilute produced water to irrigate a miserable, uneconomic, poor yielding crop
Where is the common sense in all this? Where is the sense in wasting precious
good water for bad! Why do we have to subsidise AGL’s costs. There is no
question that they will not be paying full price for this water!
Its interesting to note that since AGL announced the results of this ‘trial” a
number of industry publications related to the mining and extractive industries
have not only taken up the story, but they have significantly embellished the
result, and the outcome, - and so a myth becomes a legend!
Clearly the intention of NSW Government and the Industry is to project the image
of a ‘natural (and safe) process’ and deflect from the universally accepted view
that unconventional coal seam methane gas extraction requires the application of
the dangerous and destructive process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking); and
away from a series of dangerous consequences to ground water, aquifers, rivers,
land, the environment and human and animal health.
So AGL, where did all the salt go?
“I am very disappointed that a once proud
and highly reputable company ‘drawing on over 175 years of experience’ has
degenerated to such a shallow level as to resort to a tawdry and clumsy stunt in
an effort to confuse and deflect genuine community concern over the consequences
of the destructive practices of harvesting unconventional coal seam methane
gas." Chairman of the Manning Alliance, Mr
Peter Epov said.
People should not be fooled! Yet again, this trial is just another rather
lavishly funded stunt, a three ringed circus, with it’s own magic show featuring
the “disappearing salt”, it’s just all highly expensive smoke and mirrors funded
by AGL shareholders. Yet the costs of this charade will ultimately be added on
to the price of the gas and passed on to the people of NSW, if the NSW
Government continues to allow this catastrophic Gloucester gas field to be
Water – some facts!
Water is the most basic of resources. All throughout history civilizations have
grown or withered and died depending on its availability. History is now
repeating itself. The world’s potable water supplies are notably shrinking!
Australia is the driest continent in the world!
Global water reserves
To properly understand the seriousness of this situation a few quick facts:
•Sea water comprises of 96.5% of the total global water reserves. (average
34,486 ppm total soluble salts)
•Total fresh water reserves are 2.5% (Gleick 1993)
•Ground water makes up 1.7% of total global water supply, which includes 55%
saline and 45% freshwater.
•A total of 30.1% of freshwater comes from ground water.
•Lake water reserves are (0.013% of total water resources – include 0.006%
saline and 0.007% freshwater.
•Swamp water (0.0008%)
•River flows (0.0002%)
•Glaciers and permanent snow cover (1.74%)
•Ground ice/permafrost (0.022%) account for the remaining global reserves.
•Global demand for fresh potable water (total reserves of 3.265% of total water
reserves) is doubling every 20 years (Gleick, 1993)
A critically valuable resource.
Between 1978 and 2008 (30 years) the population of the US has increased by 52%
but the total water use has increased by 300%
Renewable water resources per person decreased by 50% between 1960 and 1998 in
the United States.
A further 50% reduction is projected by 2025.
By 2000 all US communities have experienced water shortages in the form of water
rationing or short term cutoffs.
The Manning Alliance Inc.
“Working Strategically with the Community to Prevent Coal Seam Gas Drilling in
Information Centre: 89 Isabella St Wingham. PO Box 470 Taree NSW 2430. Project
Blue Hotline (02) 65505853
Patron: Di Morrissey