Friday's surprise announcement by AGL to suspend plans to sink up to 72 coal seam gas wells at 11 surface locations between Liverpool and Campbelltown west of Sydney has triggered few celebrations among residents, including Varrowville's religious communities, reports Sydney Catholic.
"AGL has not said it is withdrawing its plans to expand its CSG operations, only that it is suspending them," says Father Greg Burke PCD, spokesman on public issues the Discalced Carmelite Friars at Mt Carmel Priory and Mt Carmel Retreat Centre at Varrowville.
For the past three years Fr Greg has been at the forefront of the battle by waged by residents, farmers, business leaders, local councils and townships across the region to prevent further CSG wells across the region.
Concerns of those opposed to the energy giant's plans to expand CSG mining have not only been related to the large number of wells involved which would operate 24/7, clogging roads with trucks and heavy machinery, but have included safety, health and subsidence issues as well as fears of contamination of the water table and aquifers.
Under AGL's expansion proposals are plans to drill horizontally underground via a series of excavated tunnels under newly-built housing developments such as Gregory Hills and Catherine Fields as well as under the homes, businesses, connecting highways, hospitals and schools in Raby, St Andrews, Kearns, Eagle Vale and Victoria Park.
In addition to horizontal drilling, the AGL application to the NSW Government lodged in 2010 reserved the right to vertically drill using the controversial "fracking" method which pumps a mix of water, sand and toxic chemicals including cyanide, cadmium, copper and chlorine underground at high pressure to bring more gas to the surface.
"Before permission is given to sink more CSG mines in NSW or any other area of Australia we need a proper scientific investigation into the short and long term effects and impact of this type of mining," says Fr Greg.
"We also need to address issues such as methane gas leakage which has been a feature of many mines already in operation as well as land subsidence, possible contamination of the water table and the effect on health, crops and agricultural land."
FULL STORY Celebrations over coal and seam backdown premature, says priest (Sydney Catholic)