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The deputy chief of CSIRO ecosystem sciences Peter Stone has hosed down fears coal seam gas will contaminate groundwater supplies.
According to The Financial Review Stone said the risk of contamination from the coal seam gas industry was small and the water it brought to the surface could be a boon for farmers.
"The risk of contamination from hydraulic fracking and faulty wells isn’t considered to be great," he told a conference in Canberra yesterday.
Stone said the water could be treated and used by farmers, and could also reduce agriculture’s impact on smaller aquifers.
But Stone said the CSG industry could contribute to a significant draw-down in aquifers used by farmers.
He said in some cases the draw-down would be "tens of metres for tens of years" and in others it would be "several metres for hundreds of years".
Stone’s comments follow the WA Government’s decision to support fracking in the Perth basin.
Coal seam gas remains the subject of significant community opposition in New South Wales and Queensland, and protestors still fear the industry will adversely impact the environment and health.
On its website the Lock the Gate Alliance says CSG poses the risk of "permanent damage from salt or toxic chemicals" to farmland.
It also says the industry could diminish and contaminate groundwater supplies.