Fears for Northern Rivers fish when CSG mining reaches peak

AQUATIC animal health expert Dr Matt Landos of Ballina says the coal seam gas industry will be another hit for aquatic life.

He said it was very likely ground water on the Northern Rivers would be contaminated when the mining industry was in full swing.

"Drilling fluids can contaminate aquifers. Sooner or later it will find its way into waterways," he said.

"Some of the compounds have never been tested on fish."

Also, fish and oyster larvae were sensitive to the hydrocarbons which could be released from the sub-strata when drill casings failed.

"Hydrocarbons and life don't go together," he said.

"Exposure can cause deformity and death (to fish larvae)."

The result would be another blow to already unhealthy Northern Rivers waterways.

"They will pump chemicals underground in the hope they will disappear, but there is a distinct and intimate communication between ground water and surface water," he said. "The gas industry has not demonstrated they have the technology to reliably not contaminate ground water."

His comments come at the same time the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training said it was possible contaminated ground water could get into oceans.

The water flows into the ocean underground through old river channels that have since been buried, known as "wonky holes", said the centre's Professor Craig Simmons.

"If there's any contamination in the ground water . . . they intersect with one of these wonky holes, they're definitely going to take out the chemistry as well as the water," Prof Simmons said.

"It's certainly not impossible that something like that could happen. I've not heard of it yet but there are certainly nutrients that are taken into the ocean so there is that possibility."

Prof Simmons said more research needed to be done.

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