AGL will monitor airborne emissions as part of its plan to frack four coal seam gas wells in Gloucester.
The company said it had conducted fugitive emissions testing in Gloucester to establish baseline methane levels prior to planned hydraulic fracturing and flow testing in the valley.
In July last year AGL undertook a four-week study to assess baseline emissions in the Gloucester area using laboratory-grade equipment that can detect airborne methane and identify the source.
The methane emissions testing was conducted along 13 routes covering 200km around Gloucester.
“The baseline study in Gloucester has so far observed relatively low concentrations of methane with livestock, landfill and sewage treatment found to be the primary sources,” AGL’s head of environment Jenny MacMahon said.
“These low concentrations were in the range of 1.7 to 3.9 parts per million (ppm).
“By comparison, urban methane concentrations typically range between 1.8ppm and 3ppm, while in domestic environments around gas water heaters and stoves, concentrations of approximately 10ppm are commonly found.”
The AGL announcement has been welcomed by Gloucester Shire Council, which has expressed satisfaction with the environmental protection and monitoring processes imposed on the company following approval of the Waukivory Pilot Project.
“Council is pleased that its requests through the Gloucester Dialogue for AGL to monitor air emissions during all fracking in one of the wells have been agreed to,” general manager Danny Green said.
“Council was unsuccessful in getting the proposed Waukivory Test Wells relocated away from homes in Forbesdale, Thunderbolts and Avon River Estate, however, it is pleased that the environmental protection and monitoring processes proposed by the Office of Coal Seam Gas and the Environmental Protection Authority are comprehensive.
“It should be understood that the recent approval by the government is for four wells which will be flow tested for gas purposes and extensively monitored for water impacts. This process will occur over three to five months following which the wells will be suspended.
“Council’s major concerns with this project have always been about the potential impacts on residents, surface and groundwater and how the brackish extracted water would be managed.
“The decision by AGL to commit to desalination to manage produced water resolves Council’s concerns about that issue.”
Meanwhile, the Lock the Gate Alliance says AGL has been given a free reign to pollute in the Gloucester valley.
"The Environmental Protection Agency has given AGL pollution licences for controversial coal seam gas exploration projects that impose no limit on the volume of toxic gases emitted into the air from flaring," spokeswoman Georgina Woods said.
“(This) comes just 36 hours after a gas leak at AGL’s Camden coal seam gas operations, near Western Sydney homes.
“Four weeks ago, AGL obtained an Environment Protection Licence for their coal seam gas fracking project at Gloucester.
“The licence allows for the emission into the air from flaring of dangerous carcinogens and other chemicals including Benzene, Benzo(a)pyrene, Hydrogen sulphides, Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, but neither imposes any limit on the quantities of these substances - effectively giving the companies a ‘blank cheque’.
“Within the terms of the licence, this amounts to an unlimited licence to produce and emit these chemicals.