THE first meeting of Lock the Gate - Pillar Valley will be held tonight from 7.30pm at Pillar Valley Fire Station hall.
Pillar Valley resident Hamish Giles said the community was very concerned about potential impacts of coal-seam gas mining on the pristine valley.
"I have seen a video clip on the net reporting Queensland land owners needing to leave their farms due to health risks," Mr Giles said.
"I have read that along with children and families, livestock may also be subjected to fumes and dust that can have a negative affect on herd health. Drinking and irrigation water could also be contaminated.
"I have heard anecdotal reports of Pillar Valley residents finding coal-seam gas representatives on their farm without permission.
"I urge the community to get informed about potential impacts of coal-seam gas mining.
The Lock the Gate website is a good start.
"This issue is not just for environmental activists. It needs whole community support if we are going to protect the Clarence Valley."
Claims of illegal ponds
Lock the Gate Alliance Northern Rivers claims Metagasco is illegally operating two toxic waste-storage ponds near Casino.
Group spokeswoman Boudicca Cerese said Metagasco had been operating the ponds without council consent since 2010.
"We sought legal advice and our lawyers suggested council was in a position to issue them with a stop-work order, given their breaches," Ms Cerese said.
"If Metagasco cannot comply with straightforward planning legislation, how can the public trust them to comply with any other regulations designed to safeguard communities and the environment from harm from their potentially hazardous operations."
Further to this, a Metgasco officer told a Lock the Gate member that the company had removed toxic water from the site if the ponds approached capacity.
"This raises a whole lot of questions about how much potentially hazardous wastewater is being carted away, where it is being disposed of, why the ponds are unable to contain the water volumes being dumped there and whether they may have overflowed in the past," LTG Northern Rivers co-ordinator Ian Gaillard said.
Metgasco did not respond directly to the claim it may have carted water from the site, nor did it advise where any such water would be disposed of or treated.
Metgasco chief Peter Henderson said the company had never had a spill or overflow from the ponds despite flood events and heavy rainfall in the area.
"We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously," Mr Henderson said.
Protesters will rally outside Metgasco's Casino office today.
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