Page MP, Janelle Saffin backs a moratorium on gas mining.
Page MP, Janelle Saffin backs a moratorium on gas mining.

Community's concern heard

THE calls of several Northern Rivers councils and concerned community groups to put a moratorium on further coal seam gas exploration have been backed by Page MP Janelle Saffin.

Three companies, including Metgasco, are exploring for coal seam gas in the Clarence Moreton Basin which includes much of the Northern Rivers area.

However concerns about the possible environmental impact of the testing process and

extraction methods, has several councils, including Tweed, Lismore, Ballina and Kyogle councils, calling for a halt to be put on further activity until more is known about the potential effects.

Ms Saffin has joined the voices supporting the moratorium.

“Many local people have contacted me raising strong concerns about coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and mining in our region and its potential damaging effect on the community, environment and agriculture,” Ms Saffin said.

“It is clear from the recent community rallies and meetings that we need to know more about CSG exploration and its impact, particularly on our water.”

Ms Saffin welcomed Metgasco’s interest in the area but said she was concerned about the testing and extraction processes, particularly the extraction method of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” which can involve the use of toxic chemicals.

“While Metgasco tells us they are not using this process, I believe the community deserves much more information on this,” she said.

“The mining companies have an obligation to tell us clearly the precise nature of their gas extraction methods; if they are using fracking, what chemicals they use, what studies they have done and any known impacts on our water, land and us.”

Ms Saffin said she was pursuing a number of avenues at the federal level to ensure the

processes involved in CSG mining would be properly assessed but said many of the regulations involved, including the

regulation of chemicals used in fracking, were under state

jurisdiction and as such it was incumbent upon state MPs and the State Government to take charge.

Clarence Valley Council has yet to take an official position on the CSG issue with mayor Richie Williamson telling The Daily Examiner last week the council was taking a “wait and see,” approach pending legislation developments at a state level.

An information seminar hosted by the Environmental Defenders Office on the CSG issue will be held at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen’s Club tomorrow from 6pm.

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