Farmes seek court order for Santos water monitoring data

Farmers today launched legal proceedings asking the Land and Environment Court to order coal seam gas (CSG) company Santos to produce information it may hold relating to the contamination of water bores on a farmer’s property, near the Pilliga Forest in north-west NSW.

21 May 2014

The local farming group Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord Inc (MGPA), represented by environmental law experts, EDO NSW, has applied to the Land and Environment Court for a preliminary discovery order for any relevant information held by Santos.

“Today we are seeking a court order requiring Santos to provide any data, documentation or other information relevant to potential groundwater contamination in and around the property, near Narrabri,” said EDO NSW Principal Solicitor, Sue Higginson.

The action follows the contamination of a household bore 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 deny any responsibility for the contamination but Ms Higginson said water testing and expert scientific advice identifies CSG activities as a possible source.

Ms Higginson said any relevant information held by Santos may 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).

“This case highlights the problems of a largely self-regulatory system which relies on CSG companies doing their own water monitoring and reporting and does not require this information to be made public,” Ms Higginson said.

MGPA Chairperson David Quince said: “We’ve been trying for the past two years to find out how this contamination occurred but Santos has not fully answered our inquiries.

“It is vital that we now get the information needed to assess the impact of CSG activities on groundwater resources.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION: jon.walter@edonsw.org.au 90173915 or 0404 647 842