Chief Scientist & Engineer visits Macarthur region as independent CSG review continues

2 Jul 2013

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, has visited the Macarthur region as her independent review of the state's coal seam gas (CSG) activities continues.

Professor O'Kane and members of the review team met with representatives of Campbelltown and Camden Councils, as well as local community groups, on Monday 1 July 2013, to hear their concerns about CSG development in south-western Sydney.

She also inspected sites associated with AGL's Camden Gas Project.

Professor O'Kane says such visits are a crucial part of the independent review process.

"Sitting down with local government bodies and community groups who are directly affected by current or proposed CSG development, hearing their concerns and talking through how those concerns might be addressed, is critical to the job we are doing," Professor O'Kane said.

"The independent review has received around 230 written submissions from across New South Wales in relation to activities CSG – including several from the Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly areas.

"Many of the local concerns centre on potential impacts of CSG development on groundwater; risks posed to water catchment areas, particularly Lake Burragorang; fugitive emissions; and human health.  

"The meetings provided an opportunity for local councils, resident and environmental groups to expand on those issues, and for us to explore with them how their worries might be addressed," she said.

Professor O'Kane said the independent review team will also look over sites linked to AGL's Camden Gas Project.

"AGL has been producing CSG in Camden since 2001. In fact, it was the state's first CSG production operation," she said. "We have pinpointed a number of AGL sites relevant to the review that we will inspect."

The visit to the Macarthur region follows a similar trip to Gloucester in late May.

Professor O'Kane will travel to Narrabri, in north-western NSW, on Wednesday 10 July to hold talks with local community groups and inspect Santos' CSG activities in the Pilliga Forest.

Premier Barry O'Farrell directed the Chief Scientist & Engineer in February this year to conduct an independent review of the state's CSG activities – focussing on the human health and environmental impacts.

Professor O'Kane will deliver an initial report on her findings and observations later this month; however, her inquiry is expected to continue well into 2014.

Professor Mary O'Kane inspects an AGL Camden Gas Project site at Spring Farm.