Residents in the Camden and Gloucester areas have concerns about the proximity of coal seam gas wells to their homes. Elsewhere in NSW most residential areas have 2 km buffer zones between them and gas wells.
In Camden there are gas wells within 200 metres of homes. These wells were approved before the Government introduced the 2 km buffer zone in response to a long public campaign to keep wells away from residential areas. Camden residents are concerned that cracks in walls and subsidence may be due to the proximity of the gasfield.
Their concerns about the gasfield increased on August 31st when a well near Spring Farm homes leaked noisily for several hours forcing residents to call in the fire brigade. AGL's comments following this incident are unlikely to have reassured local residents.
Last month the State Government gave AGL (the same company operating the Camden gasfield) permission to frack four gas wells less than a kilometre from homes. (Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process for releasing gas trapped in rock.)
An independent hydrogeologist, Professor Philip Pells, has warned of the high risk of fracking at Gloucester. AGL's own hydrogeologist , John Ross, has also commented on the high risk associated with fracking in these four wells.
There is a major risk of aquifer contamination. Gloucester's position at the head of the Manning River means that any contamination could cause problems for the river and the drinking water for 75,000 people.
The approval of these wells is inconsistent with Government buffer zone policy. Why have a policy that you disregard?
The Lock the Gate organisation is calling on the NSW Government to provide the same rights and protections for Camden and Gloucester residents that everyone else in the state has.
They are urging the government to do three things. The first is to suspend AGL's approval to frack at Gloucester and to review all CSG approvals there. The second is to decommission all existing wells within 2 km of homes at AGL's Camden gasfield. The third is to investigate and prosecute all pollution incidents at AGL's Camden gasfield.
- Leonie Blain
This article was published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on Monday 8th September, 2014.