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John Jenkyn welcomed CSG, now he wishes he'd locked the gate

PROTECTOR, NOT A PROTESTER: John Jenkyn, of Tara, is fighting against CSG in his area after claiming that he has noticed significant impacts on his lifestyle and general sense of wellbeing.
PROTECTOR, NOT A PROTESTER: John Jenkyn, of Tara, is fighting against CSG in his area after claiming that he has noticed significant impacts on his lifestyle and general sense of wellbeing. Marc Stapelberg

WHEN a few coal seam gas wells began springing up around John Jenkyn's property, he welcomed what he believed was a progressive and necessary industry.

Now, four years and hundreds of wells later, the 47-year-old and his family of four, from Wieambilla, Queensland, say they are physically, mentally and financially shattered.

>>GAS COMPANY INSISTS TARA OPERATION IS SAFE

"We were like most others. We sat back and thought 'is this such a bad thing? It's just a couple of wells, we might make a few dollars out of it'," Mr Jenkyn said.

"We had no idea.

"I didn't have issues with it (CSG mining) at the start and then we started to get a bit educated. You get screwed over by the company a few times and you start to dig your toes in."

The family lives opposite QGC's Kenya gas field in the Surat Basin and Mr Jenkyn shared his story while visiting Lismore this week.

Surrounded by gas wells

The carpenter by trade's 63ha property borders 18 compression stations about 4km away, six holding ponds 3km away and a reverse osmosis plant 3.5km away.

"Between that we've got wells within 2km. Due west, there's over 120 wells. Southeast of us there's 199. East, I think they're up to 106."

"They're building more every week. Drilling 24 hours a day.

"The traffic doesn't stop. The work doesn't stop."

WRONG DECISION: John Jenkyn, of Tara, with Knitting Nanna Anne Thompson and June Hoskin, of Warwick, is fighting against CSG in his area.
WRONG DECISION: John Jenkyn, of Tara, with Knitting Nanna Anne Thompson and June Hoskin, of Warwick, is fighting against CSG in his area. Marc Stapelberg

Hopes for a better life dashed

Originally moving to the area eight years ago for a better life for his two teenage children, who have cerebral palsy, Mr Jenkyn claims they're now living an inescapable nightmare.

He said independent testing shows water and air quality near QGC's gas operation have been adversely impacted by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and that excessive noise is a constant issue.

Unexplained rashes and breathing problems are just some of the resulting health issues, according to Mr Jenkyn.

"We'd been to the doctors backwards and forwards, with the flu, we thought. Then after environmental activist Bob Irwin came out, there was a write up in the paper about everyone's health problems.

"My wife has had three nervous breakdowns and a heart attack. But nobody believes you. They think it's in your head.

Health service, Government not helping

"Queensland Health and the government are supposed to be the people there for you, they are telling you it's not happening."

Additionally, Mr Jenkyn claims his tank water cannot be consumed and animals on his property are dying - including the hardy cane toad.

Mr Jenkyn claims QGC offered him $100,000 for soundproofing, but will not buy his property, as he would like.

"The whole time, they knew the quote for soundproofing was over $400,000."

"They don't want to purchase.

"Never did, never will.

"I would say lock the gate and keep it locked. Don't even talk to them."

John Jenkyn, of Tara, is fighting against CSG in his area after claiming that he has noticed significant impacts on his lifestyle and general sense of well being. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
John Jenkyn, of Tara, is fighting against CSG in his area after claiming that he has noticed significant impacts on his lifestyle and general sense of well being. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Gas company says Queensland operation is safe

QGC has denied any wrongdoing, saying its Surat Basin operations are safe and abide by all relevant legislation.

A spokesperson said: "...the Queensland Health Department has investigated and found no link between health complaints and gas production".

When asked what emissions are known to emanate from its operations, QGC chose not to answer, but offered this response.

"QGC's gas wells operate safely and all emissions are within safe levels and in accordance with the requirements of our Environmental Authority and the Petroleum and Gas Act," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that QGC had attempted to negotiate an Alternative Arrangement Agreement with Mr Jenkyn "...in accordance with our Environmental Authority", but did not reveal further details.

We queried whether QGC deliberately buys out key protestors to silence protest and were told: "QGC sometimes purchases properties in the Surat Basin to support development of long-term infrastructure".

The company claims its operations are safe, environmentally sound and ethically managed.

Topics:  coal seam gas, csg, tara



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