Govt asked to step on gas over CSG chemical assessments

James Nason, 17/02/2012

An image from an Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association television commercial showing cattle near a CSG well. The National Farmers Federation has raised concerns about the use of chemicals by Coal Seam Gas companies on agricultural properties and the consequences for landholders who have to sign vendor declarations guaranteeing the clean health status of their livestock.

The national farming body has asked the Federal Government to step on the gas over chemical assessments and to pump greater resources into helping the national chemical assessment regulator to assess chemicals being introduced to farms by gas companies.

Industrial chemicals used in the CSG industry were fast becoming a legal issue for farmers who had statutory requirements to sign vendor declaration forms for livestock and other commodities produced on their land.

“Farmers need to be assured that the chemicals that come into contact with commodities on their farms are suitable for contact with agricultural produce, and the relevant withholding period has been enacted,” NFF said in its recent 2012 federal budget submission.

The NFF said a lag had developed in the assessment of chemicals, with the under-resourced National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme labouring under the burden of trying to manage assessments for tens of thousands of existing and new chemicals.

The peak farmer council wants the Federal Government to provide greater resources to the NICNAS to allow it to fast track the assessment of all chemicals used in the CSG, underground coal gasification and underground geothermal energy industries, and how mixes of those chemicals interact.

Its submission also calls for the Government to develop national guidelines to govern payments to landholders for land accessed by CSG projects, and to develop communications materials that address community concerns related to CSG developments, such as how proponents deal with issues around water quality, water quantity and the structural integrity of groundwater systems.

The NFF said it welcomed the Government’s announcement made in November last year to establish a $150m Independent Scientific Expert Committee to look at the impacts of CSG and coal mining projects and to ensure informed project approval decisions were made based on scientific evidence.

“This is a very welcome move and something communities across affected areas have long called for.”

Asked yesterday if protocols had or were being developed around the use of chemicals by CSG companies on cattle properties, the Cattle Council of Australia told Beef Central it had not discussed the issue. 


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