MAYOR John Rosenbaum said an announcement by AGL it would frack four new pilot wells in the Gloucester valley would not threaten the agreement between the company and council.
Cr Rosenbaum said he was “disappointed” with AGL’s announcement, but said the agreement signed by both parties did not prevent fracking taking place while four key water studies are carried out in the valley over the next 18 months.
Council has sought a meeting with AGL to discuss its plans.
AGL announced late last Tuesday it had applied to the NSW Office of Coal Seam Gas to ‘perforate, hydraulically fracture stimulate and flow gas’ from four existing wells as part of its Waukivory pilot project.
Group general manager Upstream Gas Mike Moraza said the pilot project was an important part of the exploration phase of the Gloucester Gas Project to prop up gas reserves for NSW.
“With NSW requiring additional supplies of gas from 2016, this project is important because it supports AGL’s efforts to unlock a significant volume of gas in the Gloucester region to meet the needs of NSW families, communities and businesses,” he said.
The news AGL will resume CSG extraction has been met with anger by NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham who said the company’s announcement was the first fracking operation proposed in the State since the government lifted its moratorium on the practice.
“The coal seam gas wells are only 600m from homes at Forbesdale,” he said.
“This proposal breaches Barry O’Farrell’s promise to stop fracking and drilling within 2km of residential areas and the government should reject this plan and tell AGL to keep more than 2km away from people’s homes.
“All citizens of NSW, including the people of the Gloucester valley, deserve the protection that Barry O’Farrell promised in February this year with the 2km buffer zone between CSG and homes.”
AGL says it will carry out the Waukivory pilot in accordance with best practice environmental health and safety standards.
It said it expects any adverse impacts to be ‘negligible or low’.
But Mr Buckingham said the company had already admitted that the fracking process ‘may present a risk to human health and the environment should they be released directly to an environment where exposure may occur’.
“The Greens are also concerned about potential to contaminate underground and surface water, such as the Manning River,” he said.
“Emissions from these four wells are estimated by AGL to be 65,000 tonnes of CO2e.
“That’s the equivalent of 13,000 cars driving around for a year. Venting and flaring will also release volatile organic compounds, which are a concern for human health.
“This is not a clean energy, it is not appropriate to frack coal seam gas near people’s homes and the government should reject this application.”