Cancer chemicals found in wells

Origin Energy’s coal seam gas facility Spring Gully, located west of Roma.
Origin Energy’s coal seam gas facility Spring Gully, located west of Roma. Supplied

QUEENSLAND’S resource sector has again become embroiled in a chemical contamination scare.

Australian Pacific LNG yesterday announced cancer-causing BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes) chemicals had been found in eight exploration gas wells north of Miles.

The wells, which were subject to the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fraccing, have been shut down.

Water produced from the relevant wells has been contained in lined and fenced ponds, isolated from water courses and livestock.

Australia Pacific LNG immediately notified nearby landholders, the State Government and Western Downs Regional Council.

Comprehensive testing is currently under way, aimed at determining the source of the BTEX.

The chemicals are found mainly in petroleum products, but can also be naturally occurring.

Western Downs mayor Ray Brown said the company’s “rapid response” to the contamination proved the company had listened to community concerns.

“This is what we’ve asked for from day one, for the due process to be followed,” he said.

“They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them.

“On one hand I’m pleased the system is working but, on the other, I’m of course worried they’ve found chemicals that shouldn’t be there.”

Australia Pacific LNG is a joint venture between Origin Energy and ConocoPhillips.

The discovery comes after underground coal gasification companies Cougar Energy, near Kingaroy, and Carbon Energy, near Chinchilla, were forced to temporarily shut down their operations after BTEX chemicals were found in nearby water supplies.

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