Coal seam gas operations present potential threats to food and water security, according to a letter by physicians specialising in environmental health published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Adjunct Associate Professor Marion Carey from Monash University in Melbourne and colleagues referred to a recent incident where groundwater next to a holding pond for water produced by a coal seam gas (CSG) operation was found, by the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority, to have elevated levels of heavy metals and uranium.
Santos NSW was fined $1,500 in February this year for a pollution incident at its Narrabri Gas Field operations
“It is thought that saline produced water [from the CSG operation] leaked out of the pond, mobilising elements from the soil into the groundwater”, the authors write.
“High-salinity CSG water can have significant impacts on waterways and soils. Even when waste water is treated, we cannot yet be certain that all contaminants will be removed.
“Although in this instance, the food chain was not at threat, it demonstrates the potential for contamination to occur. Impacts on water and food security are real concerns.
“Australian doctors have been raising these and other health concerns about the risks of unconventional gas for some time.”
Read previous warnings by doctors at Australian Doctors Have Raised A Health Red Flag Over Coal Seam Gas Developments
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