by Maude Farrugia
On Saturday (25th May) an alliance of groups from across Gippsland came together to survey several tight gas wells in the Seaspray area. Some of the wells had been fracked in the past, and the effluent water had been left to sit in ‘evaporation ponds’ for years, vulnerable to leakage and flooding. In a show of support for Seaspray residents alliance members travelled from as far as Warragul, Poowong, Foster, Inverloch and Mirboo North to attend the meeting and view these ‘fracked’ test wells near the township.
The residents were shocked by what they found. “What we saw was horrifying. We are continually told that evaporation ponds are safe and secure and won’t allow contaminated waste water to soak into the surrounding environment. Instead what we found were ponds lined with flimsy and torn builder’s plastic. The terrible state of the ponds and wells shows these companies have a total disregard for surrounding land owners, our water and local environment.” said Ursula Alquier from Lock the Gate Victoria.
She said the group also viewed broken concrete casing surrounding an abandoned well, sparking further concerns amongst attendees that the operation is not being carried out professionally or with any care.
She also said that Lakes Oil had told nearby residents and landowners that their gas-mining operations would have “no impact on their lives” but that this was not the case.
“The noise-pollution which Lakes Oil have been inflicting on residents for the last week with their gas-flaring operations is just a small taste of the network of wells and pipelines they are planning to lay across this landscape in order to turn Seaspray into a viable gas field.”
“We are very worried about this industry expanding in Gippsland” said local Kerrin Schelfhout “We’ve heard the warnings from farmers in Queensland whose lives have been devastated by water and land contamination. We don’t think these companies act in the interests of local people. If this is the care they take with their toxic ponds, we can’t risk them operating near our farms and Merriman’s creek which supplies drinking water to Seaspray and is used for irrigation by our farmers.”
“Some of these wells go down as far as 2.5km. At this kind of depth, considering the seismic activity in Gippsland, how could you possibly guarantee a concrete pipe casing will keep our water aquifers safe?” said Ray Boys, Strzelecki beef farmer.
Concern about the unconventional and coal seam gas industries is spreading across Gippsland, with dozens of, coal seam and other unconventional gas groups becoming active over the last 6 months.