Arrow Energy has applied to significantly expand its work on tenements surrounding the former Linc Energy site, near Chinchilla, from six wells to a potential 286 wells.
The Linc scandal was part of a contamination scandal in 2015 when Linc’s underground coal gasification project breached containment and sent toxic chemicals through the surrounding land.
Arrow’s project however, is coal seam gas, a completely different process which has been operating in Queensland for decades. Coal seam gas is used to feed the three massive LNG export plants on Curtis Island, near Gladstone, while Arrow is a major supplier of Queensland’s domestic gas industry.
The plans to increase the development of the site have angered farmers and environmentalists who fear groundwater in the area could be impacted by the spread of contaminants. However, Arrow’s modelling has found that the groundwater is currently flowing back towards the Linc site and will probably continue to do so for the next five to 10 years.
The modelling also shows the contaminants would be non-existent in about seven years.
The company said its development would have a “negligible or low level of impact on groundwater movement from the former Linc Energy site”.
None of the planned wells would be fracked and the actual Linc site has been excised from Arrow’s tenements.
Arrow currently holds an environmental authority for six wells on the site and its latest plans would mean an additional 280 wells over 20 years. It said it had also done extensive studies on the groundwater.
“With the knowledge of the existing contaminant concentrations at the site gained from analyses of the on-site sampling bores, we can calculate the timeframe that these contaminants will persist in the groundwater (i.e. how long before they breakdown and drop to acceptable concentrations), the company said in its applicaton to the State Government.
“With this detailed understanding, Arrow is now able to seek an amendment to our existing Hopeland EA to include planned production wells on our Hopeland Petroleum Lease.”
Farmer and vocal critic of the gas industry Brian Bender said the further risk of contamination was too great for the project to go ahead.
“There are too many unknowns in this situation,” he said.
Bender wants an independent evaluation done on the Arrow modelling.
“I’m a firm believer nothing should be done until the Linc energy situation is fully resolved and at this stage it is simply not resolved,” he said.
Lock the Gate’s Ellie Smith said the application was “simply madness”.
“We must stop sacrificing our best farmland to greedy gas companies who are wrecking Queensland’s land and water just so they can flog dirty gas to the highest bidder,” she said.
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