21 Dec – Anti-CSG campaigners from the northern rivers have joined an escalated protest against coal-seam gas mining in the Pilliga Forest at which two Coonabarabran women locked themselves by their necks to the gates of two sites near Narrabri owned by miner, Santos, at the weekend.
Scores of supporters at each site have interrupted construction at the Leewood wastewater treatment plant of Santos’ Narrabri CSG project and prevented movements in and out of the operations centre containing company equipment.
And, according to Ocean Shores anti-CSG campaigner Iris Ray Nunn, who is at the Pilliga, local Aborigines have also locked onto mining vehicles owned by Santos.
Ms Ray Nunn told Echonetdaily the action by the Gamilaraay people ‘on their sacred land’ was ‘historical’.
‘Pilliga is a recharge zone for the GAT, and the Liverpool Plains is the major food bowl for NSW that the Pilliga supports,’ she said.
She said that after the Bentley ’success’, she and other north coast locals ‘became active in protecting the forest from mining rape’.
Supporters of the women locked onto the Santos sites have unfurled banners near them declaring ‘This Christmas we want a CSG free Pilliga forest’ and ‘This Christmas we want Santos free’.
Michelle Webb, a 52 year-old agricultural teacher and sixth generation farmer locked on to the gate of the Leewood wastewater treatment plant said ‘We’ve already seen the impacts to our groundwater from Santos’ exploration activities’.
‘You cannot have the coal seam gas industry and respect our precious water resources – you just cannot have both. The risks of the coal seam gas industry are simply unacceptable,’ Ms Webb said.
‘This is not how I’d choose to spend my morning four days before Christmas, but it’s urgent that we stop the threat of coal seam gas before it takes over like it has in Queensland.’
Nicole Hunter, a 44 year-old Coonabarabran mother said ‘I’m determined to do all I can to protect the future of this region and our planet for my three young daughters’.
‘The Narrabri Gas Project is proposed for the recharge area of the Great Artesian Basin. If we depressurize or contaminate this resource there’s not turning back,’ Mrs Hunter said.
Schoolteacher Michelle Webb locked onto the gate at the Santos Operations Centre in Narrabri.