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Issue #1631      March 19, 2014

Secrecy, misinformation on CSG contamination

Reports that stock have been drinking from an aquifer polluted by uranium and other toxic materials in the Pilliga in north west NSW proves that the farming community is at risk because of secrecy and misinformation from CSG companies, the Lock the Gate Alliance says.

LTG spokesperson, local farmer Anne Kennedy, said the latest news was outrageous and demonstrated the scant disregard the CSG industry was showing for human health, environmental monitoring and existing agricultural industries in the Pilliga.

“First we learn that for around 12 months CSG miner Santos and the EPA have known that the aquifer has been contaminated by uranium and other heavy metals and the public has been kept in the dark.

“Now we find out that stock have been drinking from the very same aquifer just a few kilometres from the point source of the contamination, despite repeated denials of this fact by Santos,” Ms Kennedy said.

This is the same aquifer that a local farmer uses to drink and to wash in and to water their stock. But it gets worse. The leaking tailings pond responsible for the pollution is still in use a year after it was found to be faulty. How is it possible that Santos is still operating in the Pilliga, asked Anne Kennedy.

“Where are the authorities that are supposed to monitor pollutants and protect human health and our existing agricultural industries? Where is the public’s right to be kept informed about radioactive contamination at levels 20 times safe drinking standards?

“This sad episode has exposed the secrecy and misinformation in the CSG industry but it is the local farmers who will end up paying the price with their health and their livelihoods.”

The site of the contamination, the Pilliga state forest, is a recharge basin for the Great Artesian Basin, the vast and vitally important underground water resource that sustains much of inland Australia.

“It is high time the state government intervened to close this polluting industry down at least until it can prove beyond all reasonable doubt that it will not impact on our health and it will not contaminate our water, our land and our food producing areas.”

Next article – Privatisation and appalling transport decisions

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