Hopeland farmer calls for time frame on bore decommissioning
HOPELAND farmer Brian Bender is calling on the State Government to tighten up the "make good" process between farmers and coal seam gas (CSG) companies after a bore on his property that had been marked for decommissioning since September last year began kicking up water and gas.
IT HAS been three years since the release of a State Government report that said two bores on Brian Bender's Hopeland property would be affected by the CSG industry.
Only one of those bores has been decommissioned, and he would still be waiting for it to be sealed if it hadn't started spurting water and gas on the afternoon of Sunday, November 22.
Mr Bender and another family member were doing air testing around the bore, which for 18 months had been making "a fizzing noise", when they noticed the water and gas coming out.
The water increased in volume from irregular spurts to an estimated 3500L/hour at its peak, Mr Bender said.
After two phone calls to Origin, workers arrived on site the following Tuesday to recapture the water, attaching a pipe over the bore and trucking the water away - a process that took two-and-a-half days.
"I'm happy with Origin and the way they've gone about things after the second phone call," Mr Bender said.
"It's just caught everyone off guard. No one was ready to decommission everything - everyone's been running around like a chook with its head chopped off."
Mr Bender said the incident showed it was time to tighten up the "make good" process under the Water Act, whereby CSG companies compensate farmers and decommission bores affected by the industry.
"If a bore has been identified as a 'make good', it means it's going to be impacted by the CSG industry and they have 60 business days to do a baseline assessment of the bore, and then 40 business days to make reasonable endeavours to enter into a 'make good' agreement," Mr Bender said.
"But there's no time frame on it to decommission the bore.
"That whole process needs to be over and out in six months, that's what I'm pushing for, so this kind of thing doesn't happen."
A spokesperson for Origin Energy said the natural gas industry had an obligation under Queensland law to enter into a "make good" agreement with farmers whose bores had reduced water levels due to industry activity.
"Origin, as Upstream Operator of Australia Pacific LNG, expects to fulfill the vast majority of its 'make good' obligations in the next 12-18 months," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also noted that many water bores across the Surat region not only contain water but also natural gas, a phenomenon recorded as early as the 1900s.
A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) spokesperson said the Water Act 2000 and the "make good" arrangements required under the Act gave substantial protection to both the environment and the landholder.
The spokesperson said the Department of Natural Resources and Mines had commenced an investigation into the discharge of gas and water from the Bender property bore.
Around the same time as Mr Bender's bore was acting up, a Sunwater bore on a neighbouring property was discharging gas and water "intermittently".
A Sunwater spokesperson said the discharges had been reported to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
"All water being discharged from the monitoring bore has been diverted to a secure water storage tank pending further advice from the DEHP," the spokesperson said.