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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 652


Mr BRUCE SCOTT (MaranoaDeputy Speaker) (21:20): I rise tonight to place on the public record the concerns of residents in my electorate of Maranoa particularly in my own home town district of Roma. The rapid expansion of the coal seam gas industry across the Surat Basin has seen many jobs created in one of the biggest developments in Queensland, the coal seam gas industry. What we have seen in terms of growth and population is the increase of fly-in fly-out workers. Some 78 per cent of the workers involved in the coal seam gas industry, as I understand it according to advice from the Queensland government statistical areas, live in worker camps. The real challenge now is how these camps, whether they are subcontractors or not, deal with the effluent from those camps.

This has concerned residents in my community, who are very upset. There has been an application before the Maranoa Regional Council for:

… a single storage pond to receive and store treated and untreated effluent—

in other words untreated raw human sewage—

sourced from the Coal Seam Gas operations within the region.

I am quoting that from the council's website.

This is located some 20 kilometres north of Roma and the watershed above Roma. The size of the proposed storage pond would be some five hectares in size, about 12 acres in the old measurement, and one metre deep. It will have a storage capacity of 50 megalitres. That is the equivalent of 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools, given that one Olympic-sized swimming pool is 2.5 megalitres. The effluent received at this site will comprise some 60 per cent untreated and 40 per cent treated human effluent. The total proposed accepted wastewater per year will be almost 96 megalitres.

The problem with this proposal is that it has the potential, being located within 1½ kilometres of the nearest resident—in fact, within a 10-kilometre radius of this proposal for the storage of raw human sewage, as well as some treated human sewage, there are 80 residences—to devalue the surrounding land. Think of that with these lifestyle blocks that are rapidly developing in my constituency; people are buying land—160 acres or 40 acres—to build a new house, to raise their family and to enjoy a rural lifestyle. So it has the potential to devalue the land in the area.

A young couple have bought land nearby—a wonderful young couple with a young family—and they asked, 'Why would we buy land there and build our house next to a toilet?' That is the equivalent of what this means. The concerned residents have had two meetings now, and I think they are having another one tomorrow night. They really want to stop this proposal, and I believe that they are on very sound ground. The problem with this raw, untreated human sewage is that it is going to be stored there. The proposal is that the fluids will evaporate and that one day they will just bulldoze the dam and cover up the remaining solids. In this day and age, when we are trying to promote the clean, green image of our agricultural sector, can you imagine that we should allow this type of development, for raw, untreated human sewage to be left uncovered in the open air? Animals and particularly birds could transmit potential risks associated with that type of storage into the region.

The people of Roma who are concerned about this were not aware of this. I know now that the regional council are concerned themselves. We have to work with the gas industry to make sure that we can deal with this in a proper way, as you would in a town or city, so that the effluent that is coming from these camps is treated to the high standards that we would expect in our capital cities. I am with the communities to make sure that we work with these gas companies. We need their support, because if this practice is not stopped now it will continue to be allowed across this coal seam gas industry development for the next 20 years. I do not want to see that occur in my constituency, and nor do the concerned residents of the Roma district. (Time expired)