OPINION: CSG debate being clouded by myths and untruths
THE community needs a sensible, mature debate about its energy supplies.
Regrettably, we are still in an environment where facts mean nothing, basic legal principles are thrown aside and people make unfounded and misleading accusations.
Metgasco has always acted lawfully and responsibly in its activities but we continue to be painted in a different light.
For example, recent comments from Councillor Jeff Johnson in which he says things that are simply untrue. Metgasco never "dumped" water into the Richmond River and was never fined.
Mr Johnson simply has not checked the facts.
We did dispose of some of our water into the Richmond Valley sewage treatment plant, but only after environmental studies were presented to the Council, showing the disposal was environmentally acceptable and with the Council's approval.
The EPA subsequently found that the strict wording of the Council's licence did not allow the CSG water and other streams to be processed through the sewage plant.
The EPA found that there had been no environmental damage and approved a second use of the sewage plant for the disposal of CSG water.
Next, we did not breach our pond freeboard requirements.
The ponds were designed and operated to government approved standards. After some years of operation, without any technical justification whatsoever, the government decided that it wanted more freeboard than it had previously approved.
Metgasco consequently took action to achieve this additional freeboard, complying as it always has with regulations and directions.
Councillor Johnson also smears us with the use of the words "toxic wastewater dam".
We have released full analyses of the water quality to the public which show that the water is not toxic, just salty (about a 1/10th of the salinity of sea water).
Indeed, we have presented detailed analyses and veterinarian studies to government to show that the water, untreated, is suitable for stock watering, and have approval to use the water for this purpose.
Councillor Johnson also writes about reports of leaking wells and localised contamination. These "reports" have no foundation whatsoever. It is irresponsible for a councillor to slander a company in this way.
We would be delighted to brief Councillor Johnson on the fundamentals of our industry, so that he understands the technology we use and that we are exploring for natural gas in coal seams, tight gas, and as in the case of the Rosella well, for conventional gas.
Metgasco has operated in the Casino area for more than 10 years drilling more than 50 wells, providing local jobs and business to locally based companies.
We have fully complied with the conditions of our exploration licences, which have been approved and renewed by both sides of politics - democratically elected governments of NSW.
Our business is to provide natural gas to NSW - a source of energy that is clean and of vital importance to our economy.
Let's have a sensible, informed debate.
* Peter Henderson is the managing director of Metgasco