Origin Energy pleads guilty to CSG contamination

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Electricity and gas company Origin Energy has pleaded guilty to releasing almost 800,000L of polluted water from its coal seam gas (CSG) operations in Queensland’s Western Downs region, according to Brisbane Times.

Origin was fined $60,000 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on July 15 for two unauthorised releases of CSG-contaminated water in early 2020 near the town of Wandoan.

Related article: Origin hit with largest fine ever imposed for NER breach

The contaminated water overflowed from coal seam gas tanks after heavy rain and ran into a nearby waterway, according to a statement from the Department of Environment and Science.

Brisbane Times said the Queensland Government chose not to announce the department’s successful prosecution despite issuing four press releases detailing lesser offences by smaller entities within days of the Origin court case.

Origin operates the Surat and Bowen basin coal seam gas assets owned by the $25 billion Australia Pacific LNG project and is a major player in plans to extract gas from the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Basin.

Origin apologised for the contamination and said it self-reported the Wandoan CSG incidents at the time, noting both sites had been remediated.

“Temporary panel tanks were being removed by a contractor from two pilot drilling sites when a series of greater than expected rainfall events occurred, causing rainwater and residual sediment containing an elevated salt content to spread to the surrounding soil,” Origin said in a statement.

“Origin regrets and apologises for what occurred. We strive to operate responsibly and safely and meet every requirement of the environmental approvals we operate under.

Related article: Origin profits jump 30% on back of LNG, oil prices

“We have co-operated fully with the department on a timely and transparent basis throughout, the lessons learned resulting in genuine improvement to our procedures now and into the future,” the company said.

“We fully support that a portion of the penalty imposed was paid by way of public benefit order which the department can use to fund projects to restore or enhance the environment.”

Read the full article here.

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