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Environment Protection Authority

EPA scrutinises monitoring results from AGL Gloucester operations

Media release: 15 January 2015

AGL has advised the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) that ground and surface water monitoring data from its Gloucester operations during November has detected traces of a chemical used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford said the results appear to show an anomaly, which requires further investigation by the authority.

“This also provides an opportunity for the EPA to confirm the robustness of the analytical methodology used by AGL,” said Mr Gifford.

“AGL must undertake extensive monitoring as a requirement of its Environment Protection Licence and make that data available to the public. These transparent requirements provide the community with assurance that the environmental watchdog is doing its job.

“AGL provided the data to the EPA on Tuesday evening (13 January) prior to publishing the data on its website - Water Monitoring Report: Waukivory Fracture Stimulation and Flow Test - January 2015.

“This data shows a detection of monoethanolamine borate in November after fracking at the Gloucester site. While the levels of this compound were extremely low and are highly unlikely to pose any risk to human health or the environment, it is important that the matter is investigated.

“AGL was required to undertake a risk assessment of monoethanolamine borate as part of its application to conduct hydraulic fracturing at Waukivory. The chemical was approved by the Office of Coal Seam Gas for use in the fracking operations at Waukivory.”

Mr Gifford said that AGL’s Environment Protection Licence requires that the hydraulic fracturing chemical is not detectable in some ground and surface water monitoring points, as specified in the licence.

“The EPA will review the data and will determine the next steps once its analyses are complete”.

To protect groundwater, surface water and the environment, the NSW Government has banned the use of harmful BTEX chemicals. Monoethanolamine borate is not a BTEX chemical.

Monoethanolamine borate is a chemical used in the hydraulic fracturing process to alter the viscosity of the fracture stimulation fluid. This helps the fluid carry sand into the fracture openings and release coal seam gas.

AGL’s environment protection licence contains legally enforceable site specific conditions, with which AGL must comply in order to prevent pollution and safeguard the environment. The licence is available to the public on the EPA’s public register.

To report pollution or raise concerns about environmental incidents contact the EPA’s 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555.

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 15 January 2015