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Environment

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AGL announced on 4 February 2016 that following a review, it has taken a strategic decision that exploration and production of natural gas assets will no longer be a core business for the company due to the volatility of commodity prices and long development lead times.

ASX Release: 4 February 2016

AGL has commenced an extensive decommissioning and rehabilitation program for its well sites and other infrastructure in the Gloucester region. AGL is also progressively decommissioning wells and rehabilitating sites at the Camden Gas Project prior to ceasing production in 2023.

Fact Sheet: Gas Well Rehabilitation

AGL meets its environmental and regulatory requirements by adopting a systematic approach to undertaking work programs, consistently evaluating risks to air, water and landscapes and implementing best practice site management. AGL invests in scientific studies well beyond its regulatory responsibilities, reflected in the many baseline studies, water and air monitoring programs and geological reporting publicly available for each project. The breadth of AGL’s studies and investigations is outlined below, and monitoring reports for air and water can be found on the Monitoring Data page.

What is an Environmental Assessment?

An Environmental Assessment is a formal submission to the Department of Planning. It is the Government's way of assessing the project to ensure it meets strict NSW Government standards and that it will not have significant environmental impacts.

An Environmental Assessment is made up of:

  • A formal description of the project.
  • An assessment of the likely effects of the project on the physical, social and economic environment.
  • Identification of measures to be implemented to mitigate impacts.
  • An evaluation of alternatives and justification for the project.
  • An assessment of the cumulative impacts of the project.
  • Specialist studies have been undertaken to address a range of environmental issues associated with the proposed works, including an assessment of noise, hazard and risk.

View AGL's Environmental Assessment files in the Project document libraries: Gloucester Gas Project and Camden Gas Project.

Water studies

AGL understands that protecting local water resources is our biggest responsibility. That’s why we undertake comprehensive water research and monitoring – by our in-house expert hydrogeologists and by independent water scientists. AGL believes it is critical to protect water resources and manage produced water as part of the sustainable development of coal seam gas. You can learn more about our water management programs in each project area by visiting the Camden, Gloucester and Hunter pages.

AGL Hydrogeologist Nicola Fry talks about the water monitoring process.

Fugitive methane emissions monitoring

AGL‘s Fugitive Methane Emissions Monitoring Program measured methane concentrations in the Macarthur region where natural coal seam gas is produced. It found that methane concentrations in the area are in line with averages for urban areas without coal seam gas production. The study was conducted in 2013 by air quality specialists Pacific Environment using the Picarro, one of the world’s most sensitive, state-of-the-art instruments for this type of testing. It was the first of its kind in NSW.

The study measured the level of methane concentration in the air, and was conducted in response to community and government concern and requests for additional information about AGL’s operations and the local environment.

Twenty-five locations in the Macarthur region were monitored weekly, at different times of the day and night, with 75 hours of measurements for analysis and reporting. 20 locations were within the Camden Gas Project and five locations were within the surrounding community.

During the 12-week monitoring program the average methane concentration was 2.1ppm (parts per million). This is in line with methane concentrations measured in urban areas commonly ranging between 1.8ppm and 3.0ppm.

These results are lower than readings measured inside a house in the local area:

  • One metre from an outside gas hot water system = 9-10ppm
  • 50 centimetres from a domestic gas heater vent = 2.4ppm
  • 50 centimetres from a domestic gas stove cooker = 10.2ppm

Read the media release and download a copy of the AGL Fugitive Methane Emissions Monitoring Program community report in the document repository.

AGL Environmental Manager, Aaron Clifton, and Pacific Environment Senior Scientist, Justine Firth talk about AGL's Fugitive Methane Emissions Monitoring Program.

Soil, water and crop reports – AGL's Gloucester Gas Project

AGL’s irrigation program trialed using blended water to irrigate crops at our Tiedmans property. Frequent soil, water and crop reporting was undertaken to ensure our operations did not impact the environment or change the soil, water and crop structure. Our water and soil reports show our activities had no impact upon soil and water quality, and our independent crop report rated the quality of our fodder at the highest quality possible. Read more about our irrigation program.

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AGL Overseer, Andrew Lenehan, during baling at our Tiedmans property.

Health Risk Impact Assessment

In early 2013, NSW Health and the local community told us that more information about the proposed Camden North Expansion Project was needed. After talking with the Macarthur community and NSW Health, AGL commissioned a comprehensive study to look into every aspect of the Camden North Expansion Project and its potential effect on human health. The resulting report, by environmental consultants Environmental Risk Sciences (EnRiskS), is known as the Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA).

The report covers groundwater, surface water, air quality, noise, vibration, hazards and subsidence impacts during the construction and production of the Camden North Expansion Project.

The EHIA concluded that the risks posed to health of the community and to ground water, surface water and air was found to be low and acceptable provided best practice, current policies and Codes of Practice are met.

Monitoring at AGL’s Camden Gas Project

At our Rosalind Park gas Plant, AGL undertakes continuous monitoring of nitrogen oxcides, temperature, flow rate, moisture and oxygen is a requirement of AGL's Environmental Protection Licence and planning consent. Quarterly and monthly air monitoring data from our Roslind Gas Plant can be viewed on the Monitoring Data page, and are also filed in the document library.

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Rosalind Park Gas Plant, part of AGL's Camden Gas Project.

Subsidence

The AGL Camden Subsidence Report concluded that "the proposed extraction of coal seam methane at Camden will not create large voids in the strata, nor leave remnant pillars. The strata within the coal measures are not unconsolidated and in fact are hard and well consolidated rocks. The conditions for significant subsidence to occur are not therefore present and it is concluded that the potential for subsidence to occur as the gas is extracted is almost negligible."

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