Anger at Sydney CSG meeting

The controversial coal seam gas debate has reached New South Wales, with a community meeting in inner west Sydney last night producing some angry exchanges between environmentalists and mining representatives.

The chief executive of Dart Energy, Robert de Weijer bore the brunt of most of the heated questions and accusations last night at the meeting held in the Leichhardt Town Hall, according to the Herald Sun.

As the boss of the company that has the exploration licence to drill for coal seam gas in the Sydney region, de Weijer was forced to explain what the company would be doing as it explores for coal seam gas (CSG).

He told the audience he believes CSG mining can co-exist with communities and said the company would not use the controversial fracking technique "unless it is deemed acceptable and approved by the authorities and there has been adequate community dialogue.”

Locals doubted the promises, with calls of “bullsh*t” coming from the audience, while de Weijer insisted the industry is properly regulated.

The president of Sydney Residents Against Coal Seam Gas, Moira Williams told de Weijer the community considered him “personally responsible” for deciding to mine CSG in the New South Wales capital.

"How long do we have to shout ‘no’ to make sure you listen?" Williams asked, as the audience voiced its agreement.

After the O’Farrell government introduced a 60-day moratorium on all new coal and coal seam gas projects in the state, as promised, when it was elected, the ban on the fracking process was extended.

The fracking process, of blasting chemicals into the coal seam to extract the resource has attracted intense controversy for the potential damage it causes to aquifers and groundwater.

In June APPEA CSG Director Ross Dunn told Australian Mining the chemicals used in the fracking process are no more dangerous than those found in most households.

“It’s very easy to bring up an unfounded fear campaign and instil fear in people,” he said.

“If you want a story in the media, everyone knows you scare them with a toxic chemical story.

“Any chemical is safe, as long as used for proper purposes.”

“Of the 2719 wells tested by the Queensland government 5 had leaks at a level to sustain a flame, and while that’s a small percentage it is still 5 too many.

de Weijer also remained positive about the industry at last night’s meeting, assuring the audience the company would be transparent in its operations.

"I’ve got a wife, I’ve got two kids. We love Australia, it’s a beautiful country and the last thing I want, and the last thing Dart Energy wants, to do is make a mess of it," he said.

Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate Alliance called on people at the meeting to become "the custodians of this land" against coal seam gas mining.

"The end point of that is going to be a sustainable future, not one which is in the hands of these great corporate bodies, which suffer from hubris and think that they are completely uncontrollable," Hutton said.

"Well, they’re not uncontrollable.”

An inquiry into the industry is currently underway to end what Senator Bill Heffernan told Australian Mining is “cowboy regulation” of CSG mining.

Image: Six Degrees


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