This blog is a carbon copy of Ian’s Facebook Page.
Come on a journey from the Headwaters of the Murray Darling Basin travelling downstream. Ian is investigating the many issues facing the Basin.
Day 1 – January 5, 2020 – Spring Creek, Queensland – Headwaters of the Murray Darling Basin
Video 1 – Investigating the truth.
Video 2 – Clearing of watershed forests.
Video 3 – Queen Mary Falls.
Day 2 – January 6, 2020
Video 4 – Condamine River, degraded at its source.
Video 5 – The floodplains no longer trap and store water.
Video 6 – What’s happening under the ground.
Day 3 – January 7, 2020
Video 7 – Still researching CSG.
Day 4 – January 8, 2020
Video 8 – The first lesson about the biotic pump.
Video 9 – Second lesson about the biotic pump. Deforestation creates more extreme droughts and extreme droughts create catastrophic fires.
Day 5 – January 9, 2020
Disclosure 1 – IMPACTS Of COAL SEAM GAS PRODUCTION ON OUR UNDERGROUND WATER SYSTEMS
Pushing us beyond the brink!
Both biological (decomposition) and geological (pressure and heat) processes are involved in the formation of coal. Natural gas production (predominately methane) is a by-product of both these processes. It is this gas stored deep below the ground, trapped within the coal seam aquifers, that the Coal Seam Gas industry mine.
The process by which they trap the gas requires enormous and unsustainable amounts of water to be extracted from our ground water resources in order to de-pressurise the coal seam. Its only after the water pressure within the ground is sufficiently reduced will the gas be free to flow.
How much produced water does one coal seam gas well average per day?
A single Coal Seam Gas well in the Surat Basin can extract between 400,000 litres (0.4ML) of water and 800,000 litres (0.8ML) of water per day, over a period of six months to a few years, during the initial phase of depressurising the coal seam aquifer. Once the coal has been de-watered and de-pressurised, allowing the gas to flow from the coal seam into the extraction pipes, around 100,000 L (0.1ML) of water is still required to be extracted from the coal seam per day.
How much produced water does one coal seam gas well average per year?
For an average production life of 15 years, each well has the potential to extract an average of approximately 150,000 litres of water per day (0.15ML) from the coal seam. Due to water continually re-entering the coal seam from pressurised aquifers above and below, water extraction is required for the life of the well. This means that over the life of every CSG well, an average of approximately 55,000,000 litres (55 ML) of water per year could be removed from our underground aquifers that would have otherwise pressurised the Great Artesian Basin and the Surat Basin, allowing water to seep from the ground and spring feed the Murray Darling Basin further down the system.
There was a guesstimated 6,800 production wells, as well as 500 exploration and testing wells within the Surat Cumulative Management Area at the end of 2018. It is also projected that by 2035 there could be as many as 21,000 production wells within the Surat Cumulative Management Area.
Gas Today, Australia, May 2009
According to Origin Energy Senior Engineer Water Management, Robert Caine, by-product water on an individual well can vary between 0.1 mega-litres per day (ML/d) and 0.8 ML/d (that = 100,000L to 800,000L per day).
Waterlines Report, Australian Government – National Water Commission, 2011
The actual production rates and times within and between coal measures vary considerably. From their CSG production experience in the Surat Basin, Queensland Gas Company Pty Ltd (QGC) indicated that initial water quantities extracted from a well ranged from 0.4ML/d (400,000L/d) to 0.8 ML/day (800,000L/d) before decreasing to about 0.1 ML/day (100,000L/d) over a period of six months to a few years (Environmental Resources Management 2009).
Underground Water Impact Report for the Surat Cumulative Management Area – May 2019
As at late 2018, approximately 10,000 P&G wells within the Surat CMA are recorded in the Queensland Government Mineral and Energy Resources Location and Information Network database (MERLIN). Since the status of a well is dynamic and subject to change, however, the information on bore type, subtype and status provided and stored in DNRME databases may not always be current.
To account for potential status changes, OGIA runs further verification of the location, depth, purpose and status of these wells, based on up-to-date geological information and groundwater extraction records. This process suggests that an estimated 6,800 CSG wells in the Surat CMA are either producing gas or have been completed as production wells. Of these, 84% are in the Surat Basin and the rest are in the southern Bowen Basin. There are also an additional 500 wells outside CSG production areas for exploration or testing purposes.
There has been a sharp rise in the completion of CSG wells from 2012 onward, with about 1,000 to 1,500 wells completed annually. This trend is expected to continue until about 2023. Based on the current development profile, OGIA estimates that if all production areas are developed as currently planned, an estimated 21,000 CSG wells will be completed by the end of 2050
Olympic sized swimming pool hold approximately 2.5 ML of water.
Sydney Harbour holds approximately 500,000 ML of water
Water Is Life!!
Cooperation Is The Key !!
United We Stand !!
Day 6 – January 10, 2020
Disclosure 2 – LANDSCAPE HYDROLOGY
The circulatory system:
Over hundreds of millions of years and many different geological events, layers of sediments (sand, silt, clay and organic matter) have been deposited to form the Great Artesian Basin (GAB).
Deposits of coarse sediments have formed the sandstone arteries of the basin while deposits of fine sediments have formed the siltstone and claystone storage tissues. Cracks, fractures and fault lines throughout the entire geological strata create the network of capillaries. Deposits of organic matter that have been transformed by biological and geological processes have formed the coal seam kidneys of the aquifer system.
Although the entire geological strata is full of water, easily detectable groundwater flows only occur within the coarse rock layers and coal seams, due to the larger pore spaces allowing easy infiltration and percolation. The clay and silt stones have small pore spaces and only allow for slow movement of water in and through these layers. However, cracks and fractures within these rocks, as well as sandstone channels deposited by ancient streams and riverbeds, facilitate the free movement of water throughout the entire layered geological formations.
There is no disconnection within the geological structure of the GAB, nor underlying and overlying Basins, water under extreme pressure is free to move within and between all strata layers. The only real difference is the size of the pore spaces within each layer that influences the speed by which water can flow through that medium. Coal seams can vary in pore space depending on their age, depth under the ground and the pressures exerted upon them, however all coal seams are porous and function as biological/carbon filters.
Many microscopic organisms live within the coal seams and rely on relatively quick movement of water and the transfer of nutrients in and through the coal. This biological process could only exist if the coal seams themselves act as porous free flowing aquifers.
It is the massive surface area of the coal’s carbon compounds that facilitate the filtration process. As dissolved particles and gasses pass through the coal seam, they are adsorbed onto the carbon surfaces or absorbed into minute pore spaces and held within the coal. The water is free to keep moving and as it does, high amounts of salts and toxins are removed from the water profile, remaining trapped within the coal seam.
Millions of years of accumulated salts and toxins, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and radioactive particles, have been locked away within the coal. Extreme water pressures that exists deep underground massively increases the storage capacity of these landscape filters.
In order for water to continue to flow within the porous aquifers, there needs to be a pressure gradient going from high water pressure to low water pressure in the direction of flow. This requires the intake areas of the aquifer (recharge zones) to be higher in altitude (creating a head of pressure) than the exit points of the aquifer (natural springs and bores).
When the Darling Downs receives runoff from surrounding catchments or direct rainfall, much of the water is transferred into the ground and fills the aquifers through the arteries and capillaries. This recharge does not just facilitate the pressurisation of the Great Artesian Basin, it also pressurises the Surat basin causing the water to seep from the ground and spring feed the Murray Darling Basin further down the catchment.
This high ground water storage is a vital landscape function that maintains ground tables and river flows within the Murray Darling Basin right through extended dry periods, as well as facilitating the movement of ground water to resurface in more arid regions of inland Australia.
Water Is Life !! Cooperation Is The Key !! United We Stand !!
Day 7 – January 11, 2020
Video 10 – Third lesson is traditional knowledge has truth:
The Rainbow Serpent dreaming is the water cycle.
Disclosure 3 – AQUIFER INTERFERENCE
Let me take you back to Disclosure 2, where it was stated that millions of years of salts and toxins, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and radioactive particles, have been filtered from the ground water and locked away within the coal seams. The enormous amounts held in place is directly due to the enormous water pressures holding them in place.
When coal seam gas miners de-pressurise the coal seam to release the gas, they also release the salts, toxins and radioactivity. Millions of years of waste products disassociate from their carbon bonds and dissolve back into the water. This water is then pumped to the surface and becomes the waste product the CSG industry call produced water.
From disclosure 1 – over the life of every CSG well, an average of approximately 55,000,000 litres (55 ML) of water per year can be drawn from the aquifer. There is an estimated 6,800 CSG wells in the Surat Cumulative Management Area (as of late 2018) with 21,000 wells predicted by 2035.
With a shift in pressure and salt gradients, a mass movement occurs and water will flow from the high pressurised aquifers above and below, to the de-pressurised coal seam. The gases, dissolved salts, toxins and radioactivity will then migrate from the coal seam into the sandstone aquifers.
What salts and toxins they don’t pump to the surface in their produced water will escape into our ground water system and eventually find its way to the surface through springs and bores. Methane and other toxic gasses will find their way to the surface via the myriad of cracks present within the fractured rock strata beneath the Western Darling Downs.
This whole process is greatly enhanced when fracking the coal seam is necessary in order to release the gas.
Background paper on produced water and solids in relation to coal seam gas production
Report prepared for the NSW office of Chief Scientist and Engineer
Macquarie University, October 2013
a. Surface water pollution
Spills from pipes and containment structures are a key risk for the CSG industry. Depending on its location and magnitude, a produced water spill has the potential to sterilise soil and affect vegetation (such as occurred in the Pilliga incidents, as reported by Golder Associates 2012 – refer to Chapter 6); if the spilled produced water enters a watercourse it may have ecological impacts on downstream aquatic systems. The high salt and metal concentrations of produced water may result in cytotoxic responses. While ecotoxicity may not have occurred in the Talinga incident in the Condamine River (refer to Chapter 6) it may be possible through recurring or larger spills. Soil contamination may persist for many years, and watercourse contamination may persist for months.
For CSG projects that rely on the surface disposal (e.g. through irrigation) of their produced water, the resultant increase in salinity and impacts caused by other contaminants may lead to the impairment or complete breakdown of ecosystem function. From an agricultural perspective, such an impairment or breakdown could affect the long-term capacity of the soil to sustain productivity.
b. Groundwater contamination
The contamination of aquifers from produced water is one of the greatest long-term concerns associated with CSG and shale gas projects. The risk is real for shale gas, as shown by the contamination of groundwater, including drinking-water supplies, in Dimock, Pennsylvania, and Pavillion, Wyoming. The shale gas reserves in the United States are typically deeper and harder than the coal seams under exploration and production in NSW, requiring greater amounts of water and pressure to hydraulically fracture the shale seam. The shallower depths between the coal seams and aquifers used for drinking and agriculture in NSW may mean there is greater potential for the vertical migration of produced water through cracks, faults and wells, notwithstanding water and energy requirements for hydraulic fracturing, and consequently a higher risk of contamination.
As reported in Chapter 6, naturally occurring BTEX chemicals were found in groundwater aquifers at the Moranbah and Dalby CSG operations in Qld, highlighting the need to consider ‘natural’ pollution and the possible contamination that may occur if such groundwater is released.
Change in near-surface aquifer water chemistry as a consequence of contamination by gases and produced water derived from deeper strata can also affect groundwater systems. For example, methane has low solubility (26 mg/L at 1 atm, 20 °C) and can seep through cracks, faults and wells into groundwater systems. It can be oxidized by bacteria, resulting in anoxic conditions that, in turn, can increase the solubility of arsenic and iron and reduce sulfate to sulfide, causing water-quality problems. In extreme cases, the methane can explode if concentrations exceed 10 mg/L (Révész et al. 2010). The fate of chemicals used in well construction and maintenance and in hydraulic fracturing may also have environmental consequences (refer to Chapter 8).
c. Groundwater security
Uncertainties about groundwater plumes dynamics (Chadwick et al. 2005) and their contribution to the contamination of aquifers is an important consideration in CSG projects, particularly where the injection of produced water is proposed as a disposal option. Environmentally, long-term changes may affect the quality and quantity of groundwater aquifers, springs, hanging swamps and surfacewater systems.
For regions and activities that rely on groundwater as their principal water source or as a back-up during drought, the additional impacts of water extraction and injection due to CSG may have broader and longer-term consequences. Such consequences can affect the security and reliability of water supply for drinking water, agriculture and other energy and mining projects, including electricity generation, open-cut and underground coal mining and other mineral extraction.
CSG is an emerging industry that has also been identified as playing a key role in the state’s energy security. Therefore, aquifer security, both spatially (local and regional) and temporally (years to hundreds of years), must be a foremost consideration in strategic planning, approval and monitoring.
Produced water contains a range of chemicals that can have health consequences if they contaminate drinking-water supplies. Once a groundwater aquifer is contaminated, it can be many years before a safety declaration can be made based on intense monitoring and evaluation by an independent regulator. In the meantime, a back-up water supply must be provided for drinking or agricultural purposes. The presence of elevated methane and other fugitive gases in drinking-water wells within 1 km of gas wells (Jackson et al. 2013b) or in the atmosphere within several kilometres of gas wells (Tait et al. 2013) is evidence of contamination. Whether the presence of water-borne gases is a precursor to other water contaminants remains uncertain. From a worst-case and risk perspective, this is an aspect of the unconventional gas sector (both on shale and coal) that demands close monitoring.
Where produced water is used for irrigation, there exists a risk of the bio-accumulation of certain contaminants in cereal crops and stock, which may affect human health. Characterising the chemical composition of produced water, and how this may change during treatment and disposal, will assist the assessment of risk.
A variety of chemicals have been used in hydraulic fracturing, many with known health risks. Of 353 chemicals used in the United States for hydraulic fracturing, 75% could affect human skin, eyes and other sensory organs and the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, 40–50% could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems and kidneys, 37% could affect the endocrine system, and 25% could cause cancer and mutations (Colborn et al;. 2011).
Water Is Life !!
Cooperation Is The Key !!
United We Stand !!
Day 8 – January 12, 2020
Video 11 – This is the next major issue I want to investigate. Please watch and share this video.
Water Is Life !!
Disclosure 4 – Where has all the toxic waste gone:
WHAT HAPPENS to the enormous volumes of waste generated from the mining and refining of coal seam gas (CSG) extraction?
Modelling suggests the industry could produce 31 million tonnes of waste salt over the next 30 years but no one really knows.
In Queensland, a large proportion of the waste generated by CSG activity is hazardous, contaminated waste and was, prior to 2013, classified as regulated waste. In 2013, the Newman Government changed the definition of regulated waste, effectively letting the CSG companies off the accountability hook. This has dished up a toxic untraceable legacy for Queensland that is being distributed throughout the community via “beneficial reuse“ amendments to the legislation — “socialising” the cost of waste disposal and basically disguising the waste trail.
So with ten-plus years of coal seam gas extraction under Queensland’s belt, where has all this toxic waste gone? Where exactly is it now? Shockingly, it could be in a product that you are buying for your garden, it could even be helping to fatten the beef you buy at the supermarket and put on your table.
Brian Monk, neighbour to the smelly NuGrow property at Kogan in Queensland, shared what he thought of the beneficial reuse legislation:
“People don’t get the significance of the ‘Beneficial Re-Use’ legislation — this legislation allows a company to dump toxic waste all over our nation and because they say it is “beneficial” use, then the company has no regulatory body overseeing their activities.”
Feedlots across the Western Downs receive both treated and untreated water from coal seam gas companies to use in their intensive operations. Fodder crops are often irrigated with water sourced from coal seam gas operations. Do the toxins make their way down the food chain?
The methods of disposal are highly creative but are really just elaborate forms of dumping. Hence we have land spraying of drilling waste, land farming of hydrocarbon contaminated soils and reinjection of reverse osmosis concentrate and brine waste at various facilities scattered across the Western Darling Downs and Maranoa Council areas, in drinking water catchment areas.
Serious questions need to be asked about how much of this waste ends up washed into local creeks, then rivers and eventually the Murray Darling Basin. You would be forgiven for questioning how the industry has managed to get fully established in Australia without providing a sustainable solution for its waste stream.
“Beneficial reuse” appears to be Australia’s version of the U.S. “Halliburton Loophole” – which represents a significant reduction of federal oversight in fracking operations – and citizens would be right to be concerned about the food and water security of the east coast of Australia.
In the Chinchilla area large volumes of “treated” waste water is getting pumped directly into the Chinchilla Weir which is a recreation spot for swimming and water sports, as well as being the same water body used for the domestic water supply.
Both treated and untreated solid and liquid waste is being used on farmlands as a soil additive and for irrigation purposes for stock and crop production.
It is unbelievable but true, people are eating food contaminated by CSG waste, they are swimming and playing in contaminated water and they are drinking and washing in it as well…
Water Is Life !!
Cooperation Is The Key !!
United We Stand !!
Disclosure 5 – People are getting sick:
A recent report published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies has found that circulatory and respiratory diseases in Darling Downs communities have skyrocketed since the arrival of coal seam gas mining, and points to significant failures in regulation.
The paper offers an attempt to determine whether emissions from the unconventional gas industry are associated with hospitalisations in the Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia. Hospitalisation data were obtained from the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Services (DDHHS) and Coal Seam Gas (CSG) emissions data from the National Pollutants Inventory (NPI). Hospital admissions for circulatory and respiratory conditions, controlled for population, increased significantly from 2007 to 2014 (p < 0.001). Acute circulatory admissions increased 133% (2198–5141) and acute respiratory admissions increased 142% (1257–3051). CSG emissions increased substantially over the same period: nitrogen oxides (489% to 10,048 tonnes), carbon monoxide (800% to 6800 tonnes), PM10 (6000% to 1926 tonnes), volatile organic compounds (337% to 670 tonnes) and formaldehyde (12 kg to over 160 tonnes). Increased cardiopulmonary hospitalisations are coincident with the rise in pollutants known to cause such symptoms.
Apparently, controls to limit exposure are ineffectual. The burden of air pollution from the gas industry on the wellbeing of the Darling Downs population is a significant public health concern.
Health impacts from Coal Seam Gas have been a major community concern since the introduction of CSG industries in Queensland. For almost a decade the community has recognised and reported concerns about their changed health status.
Whilst the full range of factors underlying the escalating hospitalisation of Darling Downs’ residents for acute respiratory and circulatory conditions is unknown, the DDHHS statistics are significant and warrant full investigation as to causal factors. Communities in the Darling Downs have been exposed to significant pollution associated with the rapid and extreme industrialisation by the gas industry and with toxins directly attributable to that industry. The considerable growth in hospitalisations for acute respiratory and circulatory conditions concurrent with the increase in toxic pollutants in the local airspace suggests that controls to limit exposure are ineffectual.
A growing body of published research on the industry’s emissions and resultant adverse health impacts supports the decisions by other jurisdictions (France, Ireland, Bulgaria, New York State), to impose bans on unconventional gas development. Acute hospitalisation data from the Darling Downs raise a red flag. It is urgent that there should be a comprehensive investigation of the health impacts from the unconventional gas industry in Australia.
Disclosure 6 – Living in the gas fields:
A rural nightmare
Jenkyn doesn’t bother to go to the doctor anymore.
“You take Nurofen three times a day and it does nothing; you’ve still got the headache. It gets to the point where it isn’t even a headache anymore. It’s just a hot spot on the back of your head. It just pounds.”
“When we first moved to the area, you could probably have dropped a pin on a table and you would have heard it. Now, it’s just noise and more noise.”
“I used to feel angry, but at the end of the day it’s happening to a lot of other people, too. Either you move or you take action until you can’t do it anymore, and then you walk away.”
“It’s not fair that this should happen to anybody. I’d like to see the whole thing go away. I know that’s pretty well impossible, but I just want people to stop and think about the health effects of it and what it’s actually doing to our land, our water and our air.”
“Our children suffer really bad headaches, we have a metal taste in our mouths, and we’re always tired. We took one of the children to a specialist and she said the radiation that we have around our house is equal to one X-ray every day.”
“I am exhausted all the time. We can’t sleep at night from the noise. We have more than sixty decibels from the neighbouring wells. I sleep four hours during the day to try and counteract what that we put up with at night.”
“We don’t want the gas fields here,” Dougall said. “This is beautiful agricultural country; it can be irreparably damaged and it cannot be regained. We cannot live in the most arid continent in the world and allow multinational companies to take our water away from us.”
“What we never hear about are the things that I have witnessed personally in my own community: the illness, the people who are impacted who are walking off their homes, the people who have to start again, the families that are torn apart, the heartache because they have been forced into having a multinational company come into their home and onto their land, and the unconscionable conduct, the damage, the way the government is absent in this industry and in dealing with its impacts.”
Doctor Geralyn McCarron
“The peer-reviewed medical literature has documented that children born in areas of intensive gas development have a thirty percent increased rate of congenital heart defects compared to children born in areas with no gas wells within ten kilometres.”
“There were animal deaths, stillborn calves, congenital defects, and failure to breed in animals; and fair warning has been given regarding the risk of contaminated food entering the food chain.”
Senator Larissa Water – Greens
“People shouldn’t have to go through the courts to make an argument about protecting their land and water and everybody’s climate.”
Senator Glenn Lazarus – Independent
“Landowners have been bullied, harassed, and intimidated by CSG mining companies into signing agreements without any legal support. The value of their properties has plummeted. Parts of rural and regional Australia are littered with CSG wells and above-ground infrastructure.”
“Bores and wells have gone dry, animals are dying, surface water has been contaminated with chemicals and heavy metals, and people are becoming ill.”
Wendy Rogers – Lock The Gate
“We’ve been told that it takes two hundred to three hundred years for the aquifers to replenish themselves, so we’re looking at an industry that will last twenty to thirty years taking water that will be gone for three hundred years.”
“They cannot sell it overseas unless it’s 98 percent pure methane so what they do – out in the gas fields, in the middle of our food producing areas, and in the middle of areas where people are living – is that they flare the gas. When they’re burning off those impurities from the gas, it affects the air quality so people are getting sick and animals are dying.”
Above Quotes taken from – CHANGING TIMES
Disclosure 7 – Social and economic impacts:
No gain all pain
After everything the people here in the Western Darling Downs have been through, emotionally, spiritually and physically, watching their community and environment degrade around them, I had hoped for a win for them all and this economic boom they were all promised came through. Surely, they will get something out of all this mayhem and disruption to their town and lives.
No they didn’t, and in fact they are worse off than they were before Coal Seam Gas come to town! Take a look for yourselves and determine if all their trauma was worth it. Of course the few gained but the many only felt pain.
CSG construction and development was noticed locally in 2007/08
Statistics taken from Annual Report: Chinchilla Social and economic changes in Queensland’s gasfield communities in 2018/19
Unemployment rate went from just below 3% in 2008 to just below 5% in 2018 with a short employment spike in 2013 taking unemployment as low as 1%. The state average for the same period having a steady rise from just below 4% to slightly above 6%.
Average taxable income went from about $47,000 a year in 2008 with a steady rise to around $72,000 a year. The state average went from around $51,000 a year to around $70,000 a year.
Median house sale prices went from around $240,000 in 2007/2008 to around $210,000 in 2018/2019 with a spike in 2012/2013 reaching around $400,000. The Queensland benchmark had a steady rise for the same period going from around $480,00 to $680,000.
Median weekly rent went from $210 per week in 2007/2008 to $218 per week in 2018/2019 with a spike in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 reaching $400 per week. The Queensland benchmark had a steady rise for the same period going from around $310 per week to around $360 per week.
New building approvals went from around 20 in 2008 to around 7 in 2018 with a spike in 2013 of around 285
Safety & Wellbeing
Total criminal offences
No. of offences per 1,000 persons per year went from around 62 in 2008 to around 135 in 2018 with a spike in 2016 reaching around 157. Queensland’s total crime rate stayed steady for the same period only rising from around 98 to around 102.
Traffic and related offence
No. of offences per 1,000 persons per year went from 7.4 in 2008 to 17.5 in 2018, with a spike in 2016 reaching 23.9. Queensland (benchmark) went from around 10 to around 8 over the same period.
No. of offences per 1,000 persons per year went from around 11 in 2008 to around 34 in 2018 with a spike in 2016 reaching around 35. Total Queensland drug offences went from around 12 to around 16 for the same period.
Other theft (ex. unlawful entry)
No. of offences per 1,000 persons per year went from around 8 in 2008 to around 19 in 2018 with a spike in 2016 reaching around 22. Total Queensland Other theft went from around 19 to 25 for the same period.
Water Is Life !!
Cooperation Is The Key !!
United We Stand !!
Day 9 – January 13, 2020
Video 12 – The Quiet Australia Policy: Time to stand up and speak out.
Video 13 – Above ground impacts of gasfields in our state forests.
Disclosure 8 – Unconventional violations of human rights by the gas industry
A recent tribunal has determined that the unconventional gas industry is violating human, social and economic rights, writes Shay Dougall.
IN MAY 2018, the International Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) held a special session on Human Rights, Fracking (Unconventional Gas) and Climate Change. Australia contributed to the evidence heard by the Tribunal which included local evidence and evidence from NSW, WA and NT.
The Australian evidence was collated and presented to the Tribunal by convenor Shay Dougall, who lives in Chinchilla, Queensland, a large town located in the heart of the Western Darling Downs. A Preliminary Statement was prepared and one year later in April 2019, the PPT has handed down their final Advisory Opinion.
Ultimately, the findings were that the unconventional gas industry violates the full spectrum of human, social, economic, civil, political and cultural rights endowed upon the people that host the industry. The serious rights violations suffered by people and nature are accompanied by little, if any, economic and social benefits to those communities while the profits go directly to the corporations and other “benefits” go to complicit State officials.
Further, the investigation found that because Government policies and industry operation are procedurally and operationally organised, integrated and implemented around the violation of these rights, it creates a situation whereby both Government and industry are fundamentally incapable of enacting and upholding these human rights — the industry should be banned.
The outcome and final report is particularly timely and applicable to the Chinchilla area and wider Western Downs as our community is currently the frontier for the unconventional gas industry (and the frontier of the injustice) as evidenced by the recent Government announcement for the latest Arrow Energy Surat Gas Project.
The PPT findings have validated the claims of those who have fought the industry for the last ten years. The issues have been repeatedly raised at the 17 Government inquiries into the industry, all concerns falling on deaf ears.
What exactly are the rights being violated?
• Violation of obligations to those who are particularly vulnerable (women, children and First Nations peoples);
• violations of obligation to protect human rights against abuses by third parties;
• violations of obligation to provide access to an adequate remedy, judicial or non-judicial, when human rights are violated by non-State actors; and
• violations of the right to life, self-determination, development, food, water and sanitation, health, housing, education, meaningful and informed participation, the rights of those most affected by climate change and the rights of future generations.
Practical examples of how this newly validated language and tools are being utilised in the Chinchilla area include:
• individual farmers who are being engaged by the industry right now are seeking out independent third party support in identifying the information and actions of the industry that are required to fulfil these rights prior to providing any signature on access documents;
• utilising existing legislative instruments to help support their demands for protection and fulfilment of their rights, such as the Work Health and Safety Act;
• engaging the newly passed Human Rights Act for Queensland in further legitimising the actions by individuals to have these rights fulfilled prior to any signatures and in pursuing compliance with existing access agreements;
• continuing the operation of the Australian Tribunal into the Human Rights Impacts of Unconventional Gas and supporting individuals, groups and communities to identify and exploit every opportunity to require that their human rights are fulfilled;
o provide focused resistance to the industry; and
o monitoring and exposing violations to the rights of people,
nature and communities by existing operations.
Unconventional violations of human rights by the gas industry – Independent Australia
Water Is Life !! Cooperation Is The Key !! United We Stand !!