Santos outlines environmental risks of Narrabri CSG project

Industry Tags: Climate Change, Ecology

Santos’s Narrabri Gas Project has the potential to affect groundwater through leakage, cross-contamination and subsidence, according to the company’s preliminary environment assessment.

The report also outlined other risks of the coal seam gas project, such as its location in the bushfire-prone Pilliga Forest. Large fires burn through the region about once every 10 years, with the last major blaze in 2006.

In addition, development of the 850 wells on 425 sites would result in the loss of native vegetation, including the fragmentation of some habitats. The region is home to 26 threatened fauna species and nine flora ones, Santos said.

The report, released on Thursday, also noted the project may result in emissions of methane and carbon dioxide, among other greenhouse gases.

The disclosures were required by Santos, “regardless of how unlikely they are to occur”, a company spokesman said. “Santos is confident that any potential impact will be managed to ensure the protection of the environment and water resources.” 

The report comes less than two months after the government agreed to streamline approval for what would be the state’s largest CSG project.

The company was also fined $1500 in February after a wastewater pond was found to be leaking into aquifers, raising heavy metal content including uranium. Both Santos and the Environmental Protection Authority say aquifers used by local farmers were not affected by the contamination.

The company said it would take appropriate steps to minimise the project’s risks, such as avoiding areas of high bio-diversity, and identifying “appropriate management and mitigation measures” to limit or avoid impacts on groundwater.

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