AGL advises that it has today voluntarily suspended pilot production testing at its Waukivory Pilot Project. The decision was made in response to the detection of BTEX* in samples of flowback water taken from two of the four wells and from an aboveground water storage tank.
In all, AGL has taken a total of five samples from three different locations. Four of the samples found BTEX concentrations in the range 12 – 70 parts per billion. The fifth sample found a BTEX concentration of 555 parts per billion. The integrity of this sample is being reviewed along with the other sample results. As published on AGL’s website, BTEX has previously been found in baseline groundwater tests carried out before the commencement of the Waukivory Pilot Project at levels of approximately 30 – 60 parts per billion in the Gloucester Basin.
AGL can categorically state that none of the hydraulic fracturing fluids used at Waukivory contained any of the BTEX components. The BTEX detected in the samples is most likely to be naturally occurring, from within coal seams located at an average depth of approximately 600 metres and brought to the surface as part of the flowback of water from the hydraulic fracturing process. All flowback water from the pilot wells is captured within a fully contained system, and deposited in an above ground storage tank before treatment at licensed water treatment facilities and lawful disposal.
AGL’s monitoring of groundwater and surface water has shown no evidence of changes in water quality since the commencement of the Waukivory Pilot Program.
Managing Director, Michael Fraser, said: “Because of the community’s concern about any detection of BTEX and in the interests of acting prudently, AGL has voluntarily suspended the Waukivory Pilot Project until a full review of the sample results has been completed.”
AGL has also reported the sample results to the Environment Protection Authority, the Office of Coal Seam Gas, and the NSW Office of Water.
*Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
AGL responds to EPA investigation
Our response is below:
“After receiving the water monitoring results, AGL assessed whether the BTEX concentrations could harm the environment or affect human health, and concluded that no such harm arose. AGL then sought expert advice which confirmed its assessment that the BTEX concentrations found did not harm the environment or affect human health.
“AGL then proceeded to verify the water sampling procedures including any potential contamination of the samples, review historical data, conduct site inspections, check water monitoring points and also ensure the integrity of our flow back water management system.
“Following these review processes, in the interests of acting prudently and because of the community’s concern about BTEX, AGL then determined a full review of the sampling results was needed and voluntarily suspended operations. The relevant authorities – Environment Protection Authority, Office of Coal Seam Gas and the NSW Office of Water – were informed shortly after that decision was made.”