AgForce has joined the growing number of industry and community voices opposing a proposed carbon capture and storage project for the Great Artesian Basin – calling for it to be abandoned.
Under the three-year trial proposal, Carbon Transport and Storage Corporation (CTSCo), a subsidiary of global mining giant Glencore, wants to inject liquified carbon dioxide waste from the Millmerran Power Station into the Great Artesian Basin.
AgForce CEO Michael Geurin is staggered by the plan, saying it has the potential to destroy one of Australia’s most precious water resources.
“Let’s not gild the lily – this is about pumping industrial waste into the world’s largest pristine water source,” Mr Guerin said.
“It beggars belief that one of the natural wonders of the world could be under threat in this way.
“The Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest underground freshwater resources in the world. It is Australia's largest groundwater basin and crosses several of our states.
“I can’t personally get my head around this idea that we are working very hard to protect the Great Barrier Reef, to protect the environment, to recognise the community. Yet at the same time, to government is considering pumping industrial waste underground into the pure body of water that is the Great Artesian Basin.”
The proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) project would see liquified carbon dioxide injected into a water producing aquifer (the Precipice Sandstone) within the Great Artesian Basin.
“We are flabbergasted that with all the options of empty ravines where we have previously extracted oil – that the Government, Glencore or anyone else would even consider pumping that industrial waste into a pristine water source,” Mr Guerin said.
“Why it's even being considered, we don't understand.”
Queensland’s peak representative body for farmers is now challenging the government approval process, with the Environmental Impact Statement currently under consideration by the Queensland Environment Department. If approved at that level the proposal will then go on to the Federal Water Minister for consideration.
An increasing number of hydrogeologists have expressed concern about the proposal and its potential to cause a massive increase in acidity in the aquifer and potentially cause the leaching of heavy metals including lead and arsenic.
No other project in the world injects carbon dioxide waste into food producing shared-use aquifers. This means the trial is untested in terms of its impact to current water users and in terms of food production.
Mr Guerin says given the risks involved – this project must be rejected.
“Given the impact it will have on water supplies in Queensland and even further across the country, we will stand against it all of the way,” he said.
“At the moment we’re working very actively with the areas of government responsible. We are considering legal options. And Glencore needs to be clear about our intentions – if need be we will take this all the way to the High Court.”
AgForce is not opposed to the CCS technology – where CO2 is pumped into the ground.
“But this proposal - to pump industrial waste into a pristine water resource used by human beings in the environment - makes absolutely no sense from any angle,” he said.
For media comments contact:
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin: 0488 002 092