Coal seam gas (CSG) company Santos agreed on September 1 in the NSW Land and Environment Court to provide water monitoring data after legal action by farmers seeking information relating to the contamination of water bores on a property in the Pilliga Forest, near Narrabri, in north-west NSW.
On May 21 this year, the local farming group, Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord Inc (MGPA), represented by environmental legal centre, EDO NSW, applied to the Land and Environment Court for a preliminary discovery order for any relevant information held by Santos. The company had previously refused to provide all these documents.
The action follows the contamination of freshwater bores on the property of a farmer, whose land adjoins a site used for exploratory CSG drilling. He was advised by Santos in 2012 that the bore water was unfit for drinking and domestic use. Another bore, closer to the CSG site, has also shown effects of possible contamination.
Santos now has until 31 October 2014 to comply with the court order to provide the requested data and documents relevant to potential groundwater contamination in and around the property, near Narrabri.
The Land and Environment Court issued an order, agreed by both parties, for Santos to provide a range of documents.
Santos deny any responsibility for the contamination but the MGPA have said water testing and expert scientific advice identifies CSG activities as a possible source.
The information to be provided by Santos will assist the farmers group to decide whether to launch civil enforcement proceedings against the company for water pollution under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW).
For more information visit EDO NSW.