Alliance wrong on testing

GAS company AGL has hit back over claims it has failed to test for contaminants that could be present in produced water from coal seams as part of its Gloucester project.

The Lock the Gate Alliance accused AGL of failing to test for long and short-term trigger value concentrations of heavy metals and metalloids as part of its irrigation trial on its Tiedmans property at Forbesdale.

The Alliance said the company was not testing for the substances or not releasing its test results publicly. 

“An AGL report on an irrigation trial at Gloucester using CSG water fails to report concentrations and volumes of radioactive, heavy metal and other contaminants including arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobolt, lead, lithium, mercury, nickel, selenium, radium 226, radium 228, uranium 238, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and other volatile organic compounds,” Alliance chair Drew Hutton said.

“Not only have concerns of the NSW EPA about the poor quality of irrigation water drawn from coal seams been ignored, the government has not even required the company to list the full range of contaminants recommended under the national guideline.”

But AGL said the Alliance had got its facts wrong.

“These are guidelines not regulations. However, we are bound by and comply with, our water management plan which was approved by the NSW Office of Coal Seam Gas,” a spokeswoman said.

“This plan is available on the Coal Seam Gas website. While we don’t have to, we also compare our water quality results with the Australia New Zealand Environmental Conservation Council (2000) irrigation and freshwater ecosystem guidelines.

“All our data is published and reveals no change in natural surface water or groundwater quality or water levels as a result of the current irrigation trial activities. 

“Our latest compliance water report from independent (water) assessor Parsons Brinckerhoff on August 21 is on the AGL website and has all the water quality details for the irrigation trial.

“Lock the Gate has mistakenly referred to the soil, not water, report which is also freely available on our website.”

AGL said the chemicals listed by the Alliance were naturally occurring.

“Produced water is not being used directly on crops in the current AGL irrigation trial. Blended water is what is being used in the trial, and this is about three parts fresh water to one part produced water,” the spokeswoman said.

“The list of chemical substances mentioned are naturally occurring chemicals found in water. In Appendix A of our recent water report, a full list of what we test for and the results are stated. 

“Most of the substances that the Alliance says are not reported are in fact tested, interpreted and published. The recent results show that the water we are using is suitable for irrigation.”

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