Ministerial Press Release:
Friday, June 11, 2010
GAS COMPANIES COMPELLED TO CHANGE WATER STORAGE PRACTICES
The State Government has moved to further tighten restrictions on the storage and handling of coal seam gas water.
Acting Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk today released a new policy that will ensure that dams used to aggregate and store CSG water or brine are built to best practice environmental management standards.
Ms Palaszczuk said the application of these standards demonstrated the State Government’s commitment to ensuring that salt produced through CSG activities did not impact on the environment.
“Last week, I travelled to Roma for a first-hand look at Queensland’s emerging coal seam gas industry and better understand the potential environmental impacts that need to be avoided and minimised,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“During my visit, the management of water from CSG activities rang loud and clear as an issue in the community.
“The State Government has already moved to safeguard the environment from this risk.
“Legislation passed last month prevents the construction of new evaporation dams for the disposal of CSG water in production fields.
“It follows a range of other restrictions and requirements Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson had announced for the CSG industry.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the new policy requires that:
· Existing evaporation dams be modified so that their primary use is for aggregation of water for treatment and beneficial use rather than evaporation; and
· Aggregation dams will have to be fully lined and have leak detection systems to facilitate repair; and
· Brine dams (for CSG waste water after treatment) will have even stricter standards requiring double layered linings and leak detection systems.
“Through this new policy, we want to see the CSG industry use this water, first and foremost, for the benefit of the wider community,” she said.
“Preferred uses of treated coal seam gas water under the policy will include aquaculture, coal washing and other industrial uses, irrigation and livestock watering and dust suppression.
“The policy includes a hierarchy of acceptable solutions for the management, treatment and disposal of brine and solid salt residue resulting from the treatment of coal seam gas water.
“The highest and most desirable level in the hierarchy would see brine and solid salt residues chemically processed or treated to create useable products, such as soda ash, that can then be used in other industrial processes.
“The least desirable outcome and the lowest level in the hierarchy is for the brine or solid salt residues to be disposed of to an existing or purpose built regulated waste disposal facility.
“We have set these high standards based on international best practice for storing and handling CSG water.
“The coal seam gas industry has the potential to create thousands of new jobs for Queenslanders.
“However, as a responsible environmental regulator, we will ensure the industry does the right thing to protect the environment.
“There must be sensible, environmentally sustainable water storage, treatment and handling in the CSG industry.
“Companies who fail to comply with these tough new standards can face penalties in excess of $2 million.”
The Coal Seam Gas Water Management Policy can be found at www.derm.qld.gov.au.
See - Companies Compelled to Change Water Storage Practices.