AGL has been refused access to dump waste fracking water, from its Gloucester coal seam gas project, in Hunter Water facilities.
Hunter Water said that waste water produced by hydraulic fracturing would not meet their criteria for tankered waste water.
In a letter to AGL, a spokesperson for Hunter Water said their waste water works are designed and licensed for treatment of human effluent.
“Waste water from hydraulic fracturing has the potential to adversely impact the waste water treatment process and therefore Hunter Water’s ability to meet its environment protection licence conditions,” they said.
The objection was related to the additives that are found in flow-back water from fracking operations, which are a range of drilling chemicals including arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, as well as high salinity levels.
“As Hunter Water is a sewage treatment facility where bacteria is used to treat human waste, this is not compatible with their processes,” she said.
Environmental group Groundswell Gloucester chairwoman Julie Lyford said such waste water was held to be a dangerous and unacceptable by-product of the coal seam gas industry.
‘‘Produced water has been used to irrigate crops which have been fed to cattle, raising serious questions about the potential contamination of the human food chain,’’ she said.
‘‘With the grave issues of harmful waste water to human and animal health and the uniquely problematic geology in the Gloucester Basin, it makes coal seam gas industrialisation of this beautiful valley highly risky and unacceptable.’’
CSG waste water has recently been attributed to the contamination of ground water in the Pilliga Forest in NSW, with Santos fined $1500 by the Environmental Protection Agency on February 18.
The fine was issued for a “pollution incident” involving a CSG waste water storage pond leaking and contaminating ground water with uranium at levels 20 times higher than safe drinking water guidelines.
Lead, aluminium, arsenic, barium, boron and nickel were also detected in the aquifer at high levels.