Santos is nearing completion of extensive work on decommissioning and upgrading water storage facilities constructed by a previous operator in and around the Pilliga in north west NSW.
As part of that process, water monitoring bores have identified elevated salinity and naturally occurring heavy metals – as is typical for the surrounding soil – underneath two water storage ponds on Santos-owned land, adjacent to the Wilga Park Power Station.
Santos reported the findings to the EPA in May 2013 and is continuing to work with the EPA to monitor the water.
The water immediately underneath the ponds remains isolated and is not connected to any useable aquifer.
This water is not used – nor is it viable to be used – for agriculture, stock irrigation, human consumption or domestic purposes and there is no risk to people or livestock.
The source of the water detected by the monitoring bores remains unclear; however, it is likely that some of the water detected is due to previous integrity issues associated with the lining of Tintsfield Pond 1. Pond 1 was emptied and the lining repaired in late 2013.
There has been no water flow into Tintsfield Pond 2 from our operations since mid-2012. Santos will further investigate possible integrity issues associated with the lining of Pond 2 once it has been emptied. Santos has sought NSW Government approval to transfer the water in Pond 2 to our new centralised water facilities at Leewood.
The EPA has not made any findings.