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Environment Protection Authority

Santos fined $1,500 for water pollution

Media release: 18 February 2014

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued a $1,500 fine to Santos NSW (Eastern) Pty Ltd following a pollution incident at their Narrabri Gas Field operations in the Pilliga.

In March 2013 Santos notified the EPA after results from routine ground water sampling around the Bibblewindi Water Treatment Plant showed elevated levels of total dissolved solids and slightly elevated levels of others elements.

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator, Mark Gifford said EPA staff immediately began an investigation into the cause of the elevated readings.

“Our investigation into the matter revealed the installation of the liner within Pond 3 was of poor quality which resulted in the integrity of the liner being questionable.

Pond 3 had historically been used to contain the water and brine generated by the gas field. Water quality testing by Santos of the surrounding aquifers showed elevated levels of total dissolved solids and other elements outside the average readings for the aquifers in the area,” Mr Gifford said.

“Further investigation showed the pond had been installed in 2007 by the site’s previous owner, Eastern Star Gas. A report Santos provided to the EPA showed there was no evidence that contractors, engaged by Eastern Star Gas, had carried out the necessary field testing, quality control or quality assurance during the installation, as is required by current government standards.

Santos has applied to the EPA for an Environment Protection Licence for this site. The EPA is close to finalising this application and has put in place strict conditions to ensure an incident of this nature is not repeated.

The EPL includes a legally binding Pollution Reduction Program requiring Santos to develop and implement a Groundwater Remediation and Monitoring Plan that is aimed at remediating that affected aquifers,” Mr Gifford said.

Contact: Emily Boyle

Page last updated: 18 February 2014