The NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) investigation into AGL's CSG operations at Gloucester did not find “any evidence of harm to the environment or pollution of waters from its investigations after BTEX was detected in flowback water”.
The four-month investigation by an EPA team with hydrogeological, water quality and analytical chemistry experts found no evidence that AGL added BTEX to fracture stimulation fluids and concluded that the BTEX was likely to be naturally occurring.
The investigation began in January when small traces of BTEX were detected in flowback water sampling from our wells at the Waukivory Pilot Project.
The DRE fact sheet (here) states that a study by Environmental Risk Sciences Pty Ltd concluded that the levels of BTEX detected would be considered insignificant in relation to exposure and that emissions from the holding tank pose no potential harm to human health.
“The EPA’s investigation into the detection of BTEX in flowback water examined if AGL breached its environment protection licence conditions or the Protection of the Environment Operations Act. The EPA has determined that no breaches occurred,” said EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford.
“The EPA’s investigation also considered if pollution of waters did or was likely to occur. Flowback water extracted after hydraulic fracturing was taken to a licensed treatment facility for treatment and disposal. We found no extracted flowback water had entered the environment at Gloucester.”
In addition to the BTEX investigation the EPA has also completed investigations into the detection of the hydraulic fracturing additives monoethanolamine borate (MEB – a thickening agent) and Tetrakis hydroxymethyl phosphonium sulphate (Tolcide – an algaecide) in ground and surface water monitoring results undertaken in 2014.
“While the levels of both Tolcide and MEB were extremely low and unlikely to pose any risk to human health or the environment, it was important that the detections were investigated by the EPA to verify the accuracy of AGL’s monitoring and reporting,” added Mr Gifford.
The EPA will be meeting with the community to discuss the results of the investigation.
With the investigations completed, the DRE has given permission for AGL to resume its Waukivory operations. AGL’s application to vary the Waukivory REF is currently under consideration by the relevant agencies.
This post also appears on Your Say AGL.