Council’s CSG talks

WELLINGTON Shire Council will hear from both sides of the coal seam gas debate tomorrow as Esso and two doctors from Doctors for the Environment, Australia, bend the ears of councillors and officers.

An economic development manager from Esso will brief council at 3pm, followed by the doctors, who are also members of local activist group the Coal Seam Gas Wellington Awareness Group, from 4.15pm.

The doctors, Jo McCubbin and Rowena Knoesen, will brief council on the possible health impacts of onshore gas mining.

Dr McCubbin said this was a timely presentation in view of recent events interstate.

Last week Southern Cross University released a study showing the high concentration of ‘fugitive gases’, such as methane, within a few kilometres of CSG sites in southern Queensland.

Dr McCubbin said similar studies had corroborated this finding in CSG areas in North America.

“It does seem amazing that in Victoria, it is currently OK to drill gas wells within 100m of your house,” added Dr McCubbin.

“If the Victorian Government allows CSG exploration to go ahead, these studies suggest that locals could end up breathing natural gas in their homes, and as it stands, this would all be perfectly legal.”

Dr McCubbin said the current hydraulic fracturing (fracking) moratorium, could end as soon as next month, so it was important that the council was ready.

“They should be asking government for assurances that there will be full disclosure of all chemicals proposed to be used by mining companies,” she said.

“It should also be mandated that these companies prove the safety of their activities, rather than the community having to prove there is harm.”

Tomorrow’s meeting will be open to the public and will take place at the Port of Sale Civic Centre.

The meeting is part of council’s regular briefing sessions which helps it frame policy.