Metgasco's wastewater fine
METGASCO has been fined $5000 by the State Government for failing to provide information about its plans to dispose of wastewater produced by the coal seam gas extraction process.
The fines were revealed on a government web site which listed cases of "non-compliance" with the Mining Act and Petroleum (Onshore) Act.
The breaches related to petroleum exploration license (PEL) 16, which covered an area including Casino and north of the town, and license 426 which covered an area including Grafton.
A spokeswoman for resources and energy minister Chris Hartcher confirmed the government "issued a direction requiring Metgasco to submit a Water Management Plan, including details of all water holding ponds and water movements" on April 27.
"Two penalty infringement notices totalling $5000 were issued ... for failing to comply with all requirements of the direction," the spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman also said the fines did not relate to the disposal of water by the company at the Casino sewage treatment plant.
But Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson has disputed the need for the penalties.
He said the company was given a short period of time to provide the information but that it did so.
He also said the company promptly provided additional information when it was requested.
"An official issued a penalty notice on the basis that in his opinion not all questions had been answered in the manner he had expected," Mr Henderson said.
But the fines have alarmed the North Coast's anti-coal seam gas community.
"These latest compliance breaches are yet another example of Metgasco's disinterest in complying with the regulations governing the coal seam gas industry in this state," Lock the Gate Alliance Northern Rivers spokeswoman Boudicca Cerese said.
"The comprehensive failure of Metgasco to plan for or manage its wastewater in these early stages of coal seam gas mining foreshadows massive problems if they were ever allowed to go ahead and drill 1000 wells in our beautiful region."