Coal-seam gas truths up for debate

THE truth can be evasive in the coal-seam gas (CSG) debate but Clarence Valley residents will have the chance to hear both sides at the Grafton Show today.

In the CSG corner is Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson, who says that, depending on the size of the resource within its extensive Petroleum Exploration Licences on the Northern Rivers, the company could provide as many as 500 jobs.

The company operates 50 exploration and pilot production wells in the Casino area and three in the Grafton area, where it is hoping to expand within the next 12 months.

The company has no production leases in operation and no leases have been issued by the NSW Government in the past 12 months.

A NSW Upper House inquiry into CSG recommended a raft of guidelines this week, including the banning of the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing.

In the anti-CSG corner is a plethora of community organisations from the Valley and afar who are concerned the industry's track record in Australia and overseas is enough to call for an urgent stop to the industry.

Clarence Valley Alliance Against CSG co-ordinator Janet Cavanaugh, also a former Greens candidate, outlined a host of issues about CSG production, including a threat to food and water security and the reduction in real estate values in parts of Australia where the industry was in full flight.

Ms Cavanaugh took exception to Mr Henderson's claims in yesterday's Examiner that there had been no examples of aquifer contamination as a result of CSG operations in Australia, saying it was misleading.

She said not only had there been plenty of anecdotal accounts of CSG contamination of aquifers, but the industry had caused plenty of damage to surface water, citing the Pillaga Forest (near Narrabri) as one example.

Also, she said, baseline testing of aquifers was not being conducted before exploration activities took place, which meant anecdotal reports of aquifer contamination could not be scientifically proven when they occurred. This, she said, effectively muddied the wat-ers enough for the industry to claim no proof existed.

Mr Henderson said CSG production was safe and stood by his comments there was no scientific evidence of aquifer contamination.

The Examiner will post an audio slideshow of the above interviews on our website next week.

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