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Voices from the Gaslands (Fracking in Australia)

Voices from the Gaslands is a series of short videos of people whose lives and businesses have been damaged by the coal seam gas industry in Queensland.

The videos showcase the harrowing stories of individuals who have suffered a range of impacts from health effects, stress and depression, to loss of production and water bores that are drying up.

Gas companies have spent millions of dollars to perpetrate a myth that landholders in Queensland are living happily with gas — but watch ‘Voices’ and you’ll see that nothing could be further from the truth.

Please watch and share as widely as possible, and consider making a donation so that we can better support families and communities opposing unsafe CSG in Queensland, and help communities elsewhere in Australia defending themselves against such a fate.

Bob’s story

Like his father and grandfather before him Bob Nixon has spent a lifetime developing his Hereford bull stud in Queensland. The Drillham based stud is well known for the structural soundness, fertility and good temperament of its bulls. Each year the property showcases the stud at an on-farm bull sale. Attention to detail, specialist care and development has earned the business a good reputation.

But the property is currently in drought and Bob fears for the long-term future of the bore water that he relies on to carry the property through the tough times.

A few years ago the gas industry arrived and bullied their way onto the property with the threat of court action unless Bob agreed to allow exploration wells to be drilled on his land.

“This is good country and a lot has gone into breeding these bulls,” Bob said.

“My biggest concern is the water. I am afraid we are going to get our water contaminated over time. It cannot help but get that salt water and whatever mixed up with our good water. I don’t think it is worth the risk.”

He finds it hard to understand why the gas industry was in such a hurry to force its way onto his land and he can’t see why there is such a rush to develop all of the gas reserves at once.

“I don’t know why it has to be such a big frenzy,” he said.

Bob said the arrival of the gas miners has added a new level of stress to farming, one that people on the land did not want or need.

“We have always been people who have been in charge of our own destiny here. Well with this we are not in charge of it anymore. That is how I feel.”

The gas miners drilled the first of a proposed five exploratory wells on his property and then left without explanation. No one has been back since the first well was sunk and the family are left wondering what will happen in the future.

Bob feels his land has been invaded by an industry whose interest is in short-term profit at the expense of his business, his family, his water and his future.

George’s story

Chinchilla cotton farmer George Bender is about to lose two of his precious underground water bores. The bores are being sucked dry by the activities of the coal seam gas industry and the gas companies are supposed to make good the loss.

But so far George has heard no concrete plan for the replacement of his bores and he is worried. His bores are among 85 in the Walloon Coal Measures that are predicted to run dry by mid next year as a direct result of the CSG industry. A further 528 bores will also be impacted in the longer term.

Not content with taking his water, the gas companies also want to put up to 18 gas wells on George’s land.

The planned wells will be placed throughout his property and he fears they will interfere with the running of his farm.

Automated machinery used in the production of the cotton will need to be repeatedly recalibrated to cater for the adhoc placement of the wells meaning potential economic loss and production downtime. George said the cards seemed stacked in favour of the resources industry with landholders left to suffer the impacts of coal seam gas exploration and mining with little recourse and few rights.

“You’ve got to agree to their terms or else. I just reckon its just all one sided for the resources companies,” George said.

“It will completely interfere with the running of the property but that doesn’t seem to matter as long as they get wells in and get the gas out of the ground, that’s what matters.

“We’ll be living in a gas field, it’s as simple as that.”

Megan’s story

For five years Megan Baker fought gas company Arrow Energy for compensation for the land they used, the wells they dug and the damage they did to her property. It was a hard fought and protracted battle that caused a level of stress that her close-knit family had never experienced before.

The family farm near Dalby is on the edge of two major gas fields and has around 200 gas wells within a few kilometres of the homestead. There are holding ponds, a compressor station and an osmosis plant all within walking distance of the property.

The Baker’s farm is crisscrossed with pipelines and is the site of gas wells.

At one point Megan and her family were asked to stay indoors for three days while the company sorted out a “gas migration” issue in the pipes and infrastructure buried on the farm. The family were told that the situation was extremely volatile and for their own safety they could not continue farming until the problem was solved.

It was just another disruption to their lives and their sense of well-being. While the miners were constructing gas wells on the property, fences were knocked down, gates left open and sheep left to stray.

A year after the gas miners had left the property it was still littered with abandoned well components and other rubbish. Megan documented and audited the damage and sent Arrow the bill but it took years for the company to make good on the impact and disruption they had caused.

“It was five years of hard work. It was five years of fighting for every dollar we were paid,” Megan said. “It was just five years of absolute drama and stress for my family.”

3 Comments

  1. Very well done. It gives one a feeling for what it must be like to live with fracking. Ironic, isn’t it, that the fossil fuel companies seem to have more rights than the landowners. So much for property rights. They are only as good as your government and legal system. Seems a bit haywire that fossil fuel companies can have so much power to wreck people’s lives.

  2. Thanks for some more information and inspiration. I have posted this website link to all my contacts, I think it is time that we all started to use our voices, via whatever means are at our collective and individual disposal, to close down fracking and CSG sites, locally, and nationally, and globally.

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