7th February, 2011
STATE authorities are urging AGL to assess the environmental risk of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in its Macarthur area coal seam gas operations and to start ground water monitoring.
In a submission on AGL’s so-called Northern Expansion of the Camden Gas Project, the Environment Department says its planning counterpart should determine “the number and location of wells to be stimulated by fraccing (sic)”.
Believed to be responsible for polluting ground water at some locations, fracking injects a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into wells under high pressure, to release gas. AGL admits to fracking in the area but denies any environmental harm.
Among requests in the submission are calls for a “complete inventory and characterisation of the chemicals used within the fraccing process”, and “an overall environmental risk assessment” on the technique.
A water office submission makes similar calls and suggests ground water monitoring plans as a condition of consent. “The lack of information … with regards to ground water is disappointing, given that (AGL) has been operating in this area for over 10 years,” it says.
The Sydney Catchment Authority is concerned fracking’s “potential impacts” on the Upper Canal, feeding Prospect Reservoir, “have not been specifically addressed”. The Environment Department has also called on AGL to clarify the potential impact on endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland and whether the existing processing plant at Rosalind Park has enough capacity.
Up to 72 new wells would be added to the existing 130.
AGL spokesman Nathan Vass said: “We take the public submissions process seriously and AGL is confident its proposal is sympathetic to the local environment and community.”