Santos accompany NSW EPA on pollution report inspection in the Pilliga

During our March 2024 post-fire Pilliga forest inspection at Bohena South 1 NWPA observed numerous pieces of burnt irrigation equipment including fibreglass rods, polycrete blocks, tech screws, bolts and plastic HDPE pipes. The area around the well site Bohena South 1 was littered with the remnants of Santos’ equipment.

EPA GIPA 964 Meeting minutes detailing the extent of damage to the Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga (most of this document was redacted)

It was clear that a half-baked attempt to clean up had taken place with larger pieces of melted hose seemingly removed leaving indentations in the soil. The HDPE irrigation hoses had acted like a wick when they caught on fire and subsequently charred everything they touched, in some places leaving only metal parts.

An example of unburnt HDPE irrigation hose, metal staples and plastic tree guards outside the fenceline at Bohena South 1 in 2022 – image by Johanna Evans

NWPA chose to publish images of the remaining rubbish at the site on March 17th. We logged a complaint via the EPA’s Infoline on March 18th.

A report was produced by the EPA at the outcome of their inspection. Santos accompanied the EPA to the site on March 21st (along with another unknown [redacted] party).

The EPA report stated “The report [complaint]* alleged that Santos has been placing its infrastructure, such as irrigation and tree planting materials, outside of the fence line of its enclosed area at Bohena South 1. It also alleged that these have been damaged and melted in the fire and include fibreglass rods, lengths of melted hose pipe, metal staples and tree guards.

*[complaint] is an NWPA addition for clarification


The EPA attended site on 21 March 2024 in response to the alleged incident. The EPA did not observe any evidence of what was alleged in the above-mentioned report.

NWPA would like to take this chance to acknowledge the work of Santos in hustling to clean up their mess properly. We are impressed with what was clearly an expedited operation as is evidenced by the clean photos in the EPA report.

We are unsure why the EPA has commented on irrigation infrastructure outside the fence line. It has always been the case that legacy pollution issues have crossed fence lines and Santos have had to commit to rehabilitation.

The value of community monitoring in the Pilliga forest cannot be under-estimated. It is clear from the speedy timeline above that once issues are identified and reported that the EPA and Santos act accordingly to remedy problems. It is not clear why Santos thought it acceptable to leave a site in this condition for a full 3 months after the Duck Creek fire event and well beyond the declared safe passage time. We encourage Santos to clean up any other areas proactively, without them having to be reported to the EPA.

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