Farmers wary of gas power station

FARMERS in the Richmond Valley will be ‘keeping a very close watch’ on the development of Metgasco’s gas-fired power station.

Chris Magner, chairman of the Casino branch of the NSW Farmers’ Association, said there was a ‘bit of uncertainty’ about the project.

However, he confirmed no major issues had been identified as yet by nearby landowners.

The same can’t be said in Queensland, where farmers in the Surat Basin are furious that coal seam gas wellheads have been poorly installed.

They claim the wells are leaking gas into the water basin.

In response, Queensland’s Resources, Mines and Energy Minister, Stephen Robertson, has ordered coal seam gas producers to fully audit their operations.

Mr Magner, who is also chairman of the Richmond Wilson Combined Water Users Association, said there was nothing to indicate Metgasco’s coal seam gas project in the Richmond Valley would have a similar fate.

He said they had done a bit of looking into the power station.

“At this stage, we haven’t had any indication that there will be detrimental effects,” he said.

“Of course it’s something we are going to keep a very close eye on.

“It’s very difficult to make an assessment at the moment.”

Greens candidate for Page, Jeff Johnson, said Metgasco’s power station was ‘certainly a lot better than coal-fired’.

“A gas power station is the ideal short-term solution for increased demand,” he said.

“Locally-produced power is a good thing, and gas is much cleaner than coal. But it is certainly not renewable.”

Concerns have also been raised about the Richmond Valley Power Station’s location on a floodplain.

But as part of the approval, Metgasco must construct a protective wall around the power station, designed to withstand a one-in-500 year flood event.

Storage ponds must be designed to withstand a one-in-100 year flood. Metgasco must also minimise the risk of any poor quality pond water discharging into the environment and groundwater.

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