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CSG companies hid evidence of water contamination for 25 years

The Queensland Greens state that disturbing evidence from the United States today about the thirty year legacy of oil and gas drilling there has many lessons for Queensland.

A United States Environmental Protection Agency report on the Management of Wastes from the Exploration, Development, and Production of Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Geothermal Energy was just published today in the New York Times, almost twenty-five years after it was presented to Congress.

‘One of the tactics from the industry is to deny point blank that there has been contamination of drinking water by fracturing.

‘We now know that these misleading claims were based on the fact that court settlements had forced the victims of well contamination to maintain confidentiality and all relevant court documents had been sealed,’ Queensland Greens state spokesperson Libby Connors said today.

The United States EPA report also presented disturbing evidence of groundwater contamination caused by re-injection of “produced” water.

‘This is Environment Minister Vicky Darling’s preferred option for dealing with the megalitres of polluted water produced by the coal seam gas process.

‘The Greens have said all along that there is no safe and reliable process for reinjection and this report confirms its poor history.

‘EPA officers also reported instances where companies had been fracturing and drilling according to US regulations but contamination occurred even when regulations were followed.

‘Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the report for Queenslanders is the appalling record of abandoned wells in the United States which can also contaminate groundwater.

‘After many decades, records become lost and companies which originally drilled the wells no longer exist.

‘With 40 000 wells planned for the agricultural lands of the Darling Downs we need to be deeply concerned about the long-term legacy of these wells.

‘Over time well casings degrade and pollution becomes more likely. In thirty to forty years time when the multinationals have departed, Queensland will be left with expensive liabilities.

‘Today’s royalties will be outweighed by the expense of future clean-ups.

‘We need a moratorium so that all the pros and cons of this aggressive industry can be calmly weighed up by the people of Queensland.’

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