Independent reviewer of CSG activities inspects Santos' Pilliga sites

11 Jul 2013

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, has inspected Santos' coal seam gas (CSG) project in the state's northwest.

Professor O'Kane is continuing her independent review of New South Wales' CSG activities, focusing on potential human health and environmental impacts.

She looked over several of Santos' CSG sites in the Pilliga Forest, near Narrabri, on Wednesday 10 July 2013.

"The Pilliga Forest is of particular interest to us because of what's happened in the past, and community concerns about the regulation of the industry with regard to damage caused to the environment," Professor O'Kane said.

"The incidents in the Pilliga have not only generated concern amongst locals; they've been seized upon by others as evidence of what environmental harm can be caused by CSG activities.

"We pinpointed several sites in the Pilliga Forest that are of interest to the review and we had the opportunity to inspect those sites and ask questions of Santos staff," she said.

Professor O'Kane also met representatives of local community groups, as well as Narrabri Shire Council.

"It's vitally important for us to hear first hand what issues people in different areas are anxious or worried about, and talk through with them how their concerns might be addressed," she said.

"It's also a great opportunity for local residents to talk about their personal experiences with CSG development, such as land access arrangements or changes to the value of their properties, and their stories often point the review in a fresh direction," Professor O'Kane said.

Premier Barry O'Farrell directed the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer in February this year to conduct an independent review of the state's CSG activities.

Professor O'Kane is due to deliver an interim report on her findings and observations by the end of this month; however, the independent review is expected to continue well into 2014.

Professor O'Kane inspects Santos rehabilitation site in the Pilliga Forest, near Narrabri.
Professor O'Kane inspects Santos rehabilitation site in the Pilliga Forest, near Narrabri.