On August 21 2011, Stop CSG Illawarra hosted a community forum on coal seam gas in Thirroul, attended by a capacity crowd of over 200 residents.
Apex Energy, the major shareholder in the local project, were invited to speak and answer community questions. However, they were replaced at the last minute by Tom Fontaine, the Managing Director of Ormil Energy, the minor shareholder. Fontaine failed to answer many of the questions asked at the forum. We also heard from Alan Lindsay (former senior executive in the oil and coal industries), Kirsty Ruddock (Environmental Defenders’ Office) and Dr Helen Redmond (Doctors for the Environment, Australia).
We believe the community was completely excluded from the approval process. But we have a right to know what’s planned and the risks involved. More importantly, we have the right to say ‘no’ if the answers tell us it’s not safe.
How will the evidenced risks to drinking water, health and the environment be avoided for this Illawarra project? With seven of the local approvals on Special Area catchment land, contamination of drinking water is a major concern.
Ormil and Apex state publicly that they do not intend to frack. Why then does their development application for two boreholes list hydraulic fracturing as a possible extraction method? Will Apex enter into an unconditional binding commitment not to use fracking, or similar stimulation techniques?
An immediate moratorium on the project is needed until the possible impacts are known and the community decides.