The Government forgot to ask us what we think of coal seam gas mining. So we told them.
On May 29 2011, 3,000 people turned out at Austinmer beach to form a human sign saying ‘Stop Coal Seam Gas!’ in one of the biggest protests the Illawarra has seen.
Three helicopters, each from a major media outlet, circled above the cheering and waving crowd to film the historic event. There was an incredible diversity of people present reflecting the growing community concern about CSG. As the crowd assembled people were entertained by circus performers, folk singers and a few attempts at a Mexican wave.
We expected a large turnout given the amount of publicity surrounding the event, but the sheer numbers of people keen to express their feelings on coal seam gas mining plans in the area was overwhelming. Meetings of Stop CSG Illawarra, which are attracting around 100 people, organised the distribution of 30,000 event leaflets, hundreds of posters and much more, including articles in local school and real estate agents’ newsletters.
After the photographs were taken, people enjoyed a mini-festival of BBQs, community stalls and entertainment. Thousands of dollars was raised from T-shirt sales and donations to assist the ongoing campaign. Around 2,000 signatures were gathered on the day for Stop CSG Illawarra’s petition calling for a moratorium on CSG until the outcome of a Royal Commission, and a ban on fracking.
Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson Jess Moore said: “The Government forgot to ask this community what we think of coal seam gas. Today we told them in no uncertain terms.
“We are concerned because CSG mining always involves contaminated water. The extraction of gas draws water out of the coal seam that is highly saline and can contain toxic and radioactive compounds, heavy metals and endocrine disruptors.
“It is a fire hazard, as wells, processing plants and pipelines leak.
“CSG mining risks a range of health impacts such as heart, lung, kidney and neurological problems and cancer.
“It is particularly outrageous that four of the local approvals are in our drinking water catchment. Penalties of up to $11,000 apply for even walking in the catchment, yet the government approved CSG mining there!
“This community is standing together to ensure safe drinking water and food, the environment and our health. And we will not stop until we win. We have to. There’s too much at stake.”