AGL has resumed the transportation of flowback water from its Waukivory pilot for “lawful offsite treatment and disposal” in Queensland.
Water management service provider Toxfree Solutions has been engaged to transport and treat the flowback water at its licensed facility at Narangba, in Brisbane’s north, over the next three months. It will be treated to the standards set by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Toxfree’s trade waste agreement. The treated water will then be lawfully disposed of.
According to AGL, the Narangba plant is one of the most advanced waste treatment facilities in Australia. The company said there are approximately 2.7 megalitres of flowback water that need to be removed from the Waukivory site, which is about the same amount of water as an Olympic sized swimming pool.
AGL said it holds all the necessary government and regulatory approvals for this work to take place, and this new agreement keeps any current licence conditions in place. The NSW Environmental Protection Agency ‘requires that flowback water must be appropriately stored and transported to a facility that is licensed by the EPA to take that type of waste’.
The EPA have confirmed that the waste facility operated for Toxfree Solutions is appropriately licensed to take the flowback water.
“Further, the transport of the flowback water interstate does not breach NSW environmental laws,” the EPA’s manager for the Hunter, Adam Gilligan, said.
Earlier last month AGL received conditional approval from the State Government to alter its licence conditions so that it could temporarily transfer and store the flowback water in its double-lined Tiedmans East Dam. The approval variation was sought after an agreement with Transpacific in Newcastle was cancelled when water was found to have been disposed in contravention to instructions from Hunter Water. The subsequent proposal to store the flowback water in the dam upstream of the Avon River has generated community concerns as the untreated water has been found to contain naturally occurring elements of BTEX, which is banned in NSW.
Anti-CSG group Groundswell Gloucester responded to AGL’s announcement last week by saying that “this is a stop gap measure after AGL has been in limbo for seven months now with no safe place for disposal in NSW.”
“They are now transferring the huge problem to Queensland without solving the issues and this is after the fracking of only four wells - how will 330 wells compound this serious issue?... Do the people of Brisbane know about and accept this toxic legacy?” Julie Lyford said.
AGL said it remains in discussions with other waste disposal service providers for options to treat the flowback water and dispose of treated water in NSW.
AGL’s news comes weeks it officially opened its $310 million Gas Storage Facility in Newcastle last month.