Mining companies have acquired exploration licences for more than 350,000 hectares of Gippsland and the community is not happy.
Farmers are fighting against coal seam gas mining, as companies increase exploration in the state’s largest agricultural production area.
Strzelecki beef producer Ray Boys, who has farmed on his land for 12 years, said CSG mining is threatening the farming industry, according to Stock & Land.
Boys is part of the CSG Free Poowong community group and believes water contamination is one of the biggest threats from mining.
“Mining companies can drill within 100 metres of any water reserve or dam and CSG mining uses large amounts of water,” Boys said.
He said casing of the wells is filled with concrete but gas and other chemicals in coal seam eventually causes corrosion.
He is concerned that as gas travels along the casing and into the aquifer and ground water, it will contaminate the pure water with hydrocarbon, heavy metal and radioactive contamination.
“Mining companies have a proven history of underground water contamination, so why would we take this risk?” he said.
Friends of the Earth community campaigner and Lock the Gate Victoria co-ordiinator Ursula Alquier said mining companies have not held any community discussions and are not interested in protecting Gippsland’s underground water tables.
“Mining applications are on farmer’s land before they know it so we are encouraging all farmers to put up the national Lock the Gate signs.
She added CSG mining poses significant fire threats, which the companies did not reveal.
“Methane and other combustible hydrocarbons escape from the other exit points such as cracks in the earth and in rivers.
“The flaring must continue at all times, even on total fire ban days. How do local CFA members feel about being called out to a CSG fire?”
Farmers also voiced concerns about liveability, health, property values, soil contamination and fire threats.
But Lakes Oil chairman Rob Annells dismissed concerns about water table contamination, saying their company worked well below the table.
“We drill well below the water table, with drilling being as shallow as 1200 metres and as deep as 2500 metres,” he said.
He also said there were no fire threats.
“Our flares do not have to be flaring all the time and we actually have to get authority from the CFA to have them flaring on a total fire ban day,” Annells said.
Annells added Lakes Oil were legally obligated to contact landholders for discussions.
“We spend a lot of time with the community on a consultation and we feel like we have a good relationship with people,” he said.
“We personally contact landholders within 1.5 kilometres of where we are drilling or testing by phone or in person.
“We also contact landholders who are within five kilometres of where we are drilling or testing by mail.”
A CSG well uses about 20,000 litres of water a day, according to the CSIRO.