Greens press release: Nepean River under threat

With revelations that drilling has begun at a coal seam gas (CSG) production well situated a mere 40 metres from the Nepean River, the Nepean Greens are calling on Penrith City Council to join the NSW Environmental Protection Authority, Campbelltown City Council, the Greens and concerned locals in voicing their concerns about this very real threat to the local environment.
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The CSG production well, located in Menangle Park, was approved by the State Government despite a submission by Campbelltown City Council stating in no uncertain terms that “the application must be refused.”

As well as outlining ways in which the immediate vicinity around the CSG well could be affected by this drilling, the Environmental Assessment report for the project states that: “drill water and water produced from the well could flow into the Nepean River and cause sedimentation; spills or leaks of fuels or lubricants from vehicles or working equipment could reach and contaminate the Nepean River; and deep aquifers could cross‐contaminate shallow aquifers during drilling.”

The report also goes on to acknowledge that the site of this drilling is situated at an alluvial floodplain of the Nepean River, which has seen flooding even during minor flood events in the past.

East Ward Greens candidate, Peta Holmes, fears that “this will guarantee widespread environmental contamination if a flood occurs”.

“Numerous chemicals are involved in the fracking process. They are pumped into the coal seam under pressure and this environmental assessment even acknowledges the risk of contaminating aquifiers and the surrounding environment by leaking from containment ponds. There is also the risk of damage to the river bed.

“Flood plains are perfect for agriculture due to the rich alluvial sediment that is left in the event of a flood. Flood plains along the Nepean river have the potential to be a large part of the food production for Sydney in the future.

“There is great potential for use of that flood plain for agricultural pursuits in the future. And the risk that this well could pose to those pursuits – and to the environment in general – is just as great.”

While the well is located outside of the Penrith LGA, Peta believes that this should not stop Penrith City Council from speaking up about this issue.

“Given the threat that this well poses, both to the region and even to Penrith specifically – after all, sedimentation and chemical leaks in the Nepean River would affect us as well – Penrith City Council should be doing all that they can to join the fight to stop any further drilling at this well.

“I don’t want to see this become just another political battle about who is right or wrong, or who should have done what at which level of Government. That will inevitably happen, but I want for us to focus on what’s important here – and I hope that existing and aspiring councillors alike will agree with me on this: this is about protecting the future of our region.”

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