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Environment Protection Authority

No breach of environmental protection licence in disposal of flowback water from AGL Gloucester’s operations

Media release: 22 January 2015

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has determined that there has been no breach of environment protection licence conditions or the Protection of the Environment Operations Act in relation to the disposal of coal seam gas (CSG) flowback water from AGL’s Gloucester operations.

EPA Hunter Manager Adam Gilligan said just like waste from other industrial activities in NSW, liquid and other wastes from CSG activities must be properly and lawfully managed, stored, transported and disposed of in a way that protects the environment and community and in accordance with environment protection licence requirements.

As part of its investigation into the disposal of flowback water from AGL’s Gloucester operations, the EPA required AGL Gloucester, Transpacific Industries and Hunter Water to provide information to the EPA by Monday 19 January.

“The EPA received the information requested and has reviewed it and determined that there has been no breach of environmental legislation or environment protection licences by AGL or Transpacific in relation to this matter,” Mr Gilligan said.

“It is evident that AGL contracted Transpacific to transport and treat the flowback water from its Gloucester operations. Transpacific treated the flowback water and then discharged it, as trade waste water, from its Kooragang Island treatment facility to Hunter Water’s sewerage system.

“Hunter Water controls the materials that are discharged into its sewerage system. This is specified in the Trade Waste Agreement between Hunter Water and Transpacific. Trade Waste Agreements are used by water utilities to set the conditions for discharging trade waste into their sewerage system.

“The EPA has no evidence that there was any breach of environmental legislation or environment protection licence conditions from the release of the treated waste water to the sewerage system.

“However, Hunter Water has advised the EPA that it is undertaking its own investigation and may be taking further action in relation to its Trade Waste Agreement. Any enquiries relating to this should be directed to Hunter Water, which is the appropriate authority to enforce conditions with the Trade Waste Agreement.”

The EPA has reminded AGL and Transpacific that any liquid waste must be discharged lawfully and in accordance with any directions from the receiver of the waste.

The EPA is aware that AGL has since contracted Worth Recycling to lawfully transport, treat and dispose of the flowback water. Worth Recycling holds an environment protection licence for wastewater treatment. AGL’s flowback water will be appropriately treated and beneficially reused by industry. 

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 04 February 2015