A deluge would be a disaster

THE State Government has found coal seam gas company Metgasco did not provide adequate freeboard in its wastewater holding ponds and has directed the company to draw down the levels.

"Freeboard" refers to the allowance between the top of the water in a pond and the point at which water would overflow.

On June 18 the government directed the company draw down the levels to accommodate "more than a one in 100 year rainfall event".

The finding comes on the back of breaches of the company's petroleum exploration licenses (PEL) revealed by the Northern Star last week.

In those cases in May the company was fined $5000 for failing to provide information about its wastewater disposal plans.

It was also directed to report water quality and management details.

The latest direction related to PEL16 which covers Casino and includes Shannon Brook where protesters have begun a vigil at a pond under construction.

They provided the Northern Star with video footage showing water lapping the edge of a pond (see above).

"If the ponds at Shannon Brook, which is very low flat country, were to overflow or leak you have a situation where salty polluted water could potentially disperse across a large part of the landscape onto prime cropping and pasture lands and eventually into sensitive wetland areas in the Ellangowan area," Boudicca Cerese of Lock the Gate Northern Rivers said.

"The latest breaches really highlight the fact that across the board, Metgasco's wastewater management is a complete debacle.

"I just can't see how the government can continue to let them operate when there are so many serious problems with their operations."

But Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson said he believed there was sufficient freeboard in the ponds.

He also said the company was working with the government "on a range of options".


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