By HARRY CLARKE

MAJOR Australian coal seam gas developer Shell QGC has been fined $60,000 over the illegal release of water from one of the company’s Western Downs pump stations.

Lawyers for Shell QGC in January pleaded guilty in the Dalby Magistrates Court to a charge of contravening an environmental authority, issued by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.

Today the company was sentenced. In addition to the $60,000 fine, the company was ordered to pay $1,750 in legal costs and $2,292.90 in investigation costs. No conviction was recorded.

The spillage of 1.1 megalitres of coal seam gas water occurred on June 11, 2020, from what has been described to the Caller as an accidental leak from a pump station.

It’s not yet known exactly where the leak occurred, but Shell QGC said it happened on a property owned by the company.

Shell QGC has extensive coal seam gas extraction and treatment operations between Dalby and Chinchilla, and around Wandoan.

“Shell’s QGC business accepts the outcome of court proceedings relating to a breach of our Environmental Authority, following a water release that occurred on QGC-owned land in June last year,” Shell QGC said in a statement.

“QGC takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and is committed to protecting the environment across our operations.

“Immediately following the incident QGC undertook a detailed investigation and action accordingly to ensure future risks are minimised as far as possible.

“We will continue to drive better environmental performance and have programmes in place to improve the reliability of our facilities.

A department media release said: “DES welcomes the fine that was handed down in the Dalby Magistrates Court. As Queensland’s environmental regulator, DES treats breaches of the Act very seriously and will take strong enforcement action.

“People are urged to report all pollution events and environmental emergencies by calling the 24/7 Pollution Hotline—1300 130 372.”

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Shell QGC’s water treatment plant at the “Kenya” site, south of Chinchilla. It’s not yet known at which site the water leak occurred. IMAGE: Supplied
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