Australian mining company fined $1,500 for polluting aquifer
The Western Australia Environment Protection Authority have fined Santos- a major gas and oil exploration company- a mere $1,500 for polluting an aquifer with uranium, despite the maximum penalty for such contamination being $1m.
The fine was issued following an incident at Santos’s Narrabri Gas Field operations in the Pilliga region in New South Wales, Australia. It was reported that the contaminated aquifer had uranium levels 20 times higher than that recommended for safe drinking water.
Following the fine and contamination incident, the New South Wales (NSW) Government was facing pressure from local MPs to break a previous agreement with the company to fast track a coal seam gas project.
Jeremy Buckingham, an MP for Greens NSW, commented on the contamination as being “totally unacceptable and urged all coal seam gas projects in NSW to be halted immediately”. He was quoted saying “Here is definitive proof that unconventional gas, such as coal seam gas, pollutes aquifers with extremely toxic elements”.
Lyndon Schneiders, the national director of the Wilderness Society was reported saying that “the incident showed no groundwater was safe from coal seam gas operations. Federal environment minister Greg Hunt... must call in all coal seam gas operations immediately and put in place a moratorium until there is a thorough, independent and transparent investigation into the industry.”
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