I'm a freelance writer living in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. I study creative writing and film and tv.
Published January 13th 2012
Have you heard of the term 'coal seam gas mining'? If you have, then you are more far more educated than the majority of the population of Brisbane. And it's not entirely their fault for not knowing, because the companies in the coal seam gas (or CSG) industry have paid extensive amounts of money to take out ads that shine a positive light on the CSG industry and sweep the negatives under the rug. But a large group of people in the Beaudesert community - with support from all over Queensland and parts of New South Wales - have decided that they will not standing for it any more.
There are several processes which mining companies use to acquire CSG and none of them are in any way good for the environment. The major one is known as 'fracking' which entails blasting water, sand and toxic materials deep underground to crack the bedrock and release coal seam gas. This often results in the chemical contamination of underground water supplies. Fracking is banned in France and suspended in the UK, South Africa and parts of the US. A very insightful documentary was released in 2010 called GasLand which documented the process of fracking and the horrific side effects of the contaminated water supply.
There is a huge protest going on right now regarding CSG mining in the Beaudesert area. The people have come together from all over to band together and protest against the energy company's controversial mining methods.
Many residents have camped out for several days already and plan to keep protesting every day until their demands are met.
And there demands are not unreasonable. The want baseline water testing by an independent company who is not sponsored by the mining or energy industry (which has been known to occur) and they want the people to be able to have a say whether or not the mining can take place. As it stands the energy companies have almost dictatorial power over where and when they mine, regardless of whether the site is on government land or resident's land.
Farmers are worried about their land. Parents are worried about their children. They don't want their children drinking contaminated water. Some parents even bring their children to the protests, so they can say no to CSG mining as well.
Every day the protest happens. The people hold up their signs and sing their chants. They block the entrance to the mining site until the police escort officially tells them to move or be arrested.
Most are content with saying their piece and moving out of the way when they are told to, but some are willing to get arrested for a cause they believe very just. Nine people were arrested during the protests last Thursday and another three on Wednesday.
But despite the people's protests the trucks still roll on in and the miners get ready for the day ahead.
Except every now and then when someone risks it all for the cause they are fighting for. Just yesterday, a man named Daniel, a firm believer in the cause, used the arrests as a distraction and was able to jump the fence and climb to the top of the drilling rig. An extreme and very effective display of protest. The police were unable to attempt to get him down as it was considered too dangerous. He stayed up there for the entire day without food, water, or sun protection; a small price to pay for bring the drilling operation to a halt for an entire day.
This protest is happening right now and will likely continue for many weeks and perhaps months to come. One farmer said that he was "preparing for Christmas". The affected locale is Beaudesert, Boonah, and surrounding areas, however, if any water supply there were to be contaminated it would affect a far greater area. And once the door is opened to the energy companies to start mining for CSG it may never stop.
This is an immediate problem for the Beaudesert and Boonah communities, but it is also a very real problem for the entirety of Brisbane and anywhere else in Australia which is considering CSG mining. If you already support the cause or want to then join the protest currently taking place on Nindooinbah Estate Road in Beaudesert. If you support the cause but cannot attend personally then you can also donate money to Keep The Scenic Rim Scenic to pay for posters, food, and other things necessary to keep the protest alive. Don't give in to apathy. This affects you too.